Many of us are learning and refreshing our knowledge of critical care and vent management, but how about acknowledging that one of the most meaningful aspects of the art of medicine is simply to bear witness to, and ease the suffering of our fellow humans? So much energy of modern western medicine is fixated on achieving a cure, and so many of us are trained nowadays to follow an algorithm to ...

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The image of patients dying in the intensive care unit is changing. Over the phone, family members cry on the other end as I tell them that we are not allowing visitors due to “the coronavirus” at this time. They tell me, “but I help make his decisions for him.” These decisions now have to be made over the phone. This is just what we have to do to keep society ...

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Being a medical student during your clinical years imparts a certain feeling of invincibility. For many of us, this is our first-time taking care of patients. Our history-taking and physical exam skills are being honed like superpowers. Our clinical knowledge is growing. We begin to take ownership of patients as our own. With all but two clinical rotations left in my third year, and at the peak of my own feelings ...

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He was a logical man. A northeast Ohio man. Who worked all his life and worked hard. I can see it in his hands. They are entirely calloused with traces of grease impervious even to pumice soap. A family man. His wife and sons and daughters are at bedside. And proud grandson, just a man, not dry-eyed, stands in the corner, in his college jacket, the spitting image of his bedridden ...

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Does care fall short or go higher when the patient is one of our own? It depends on who you ask: We, the medical team, believe we try hard for everyone, but go the extra mile when it's one of our own. Perhaps to family/outsiders, we're not doing enough. A recent case illustrates this phenomenon: a gifted physician colleague, a new diagnosis of advanced cancer. Needs control as part of a coping ...

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We were told to wear masks before entering this patient’s ICU room. Entering his room, you could smell his rotting flesh. He was 92 years old. His skin would slough off if you dared to bathe him. His decubitus ulcers were raging with infection. As long as I’ve been an ICU nurse, this was the worst — the smell, the neglect, the disrespect for this man. He was VIP status. I always had a problem ...

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An excerpt from Death Is But a Dream: Finding Hope and Meaning at Life's End. Published on February 11, 2020 by Avery, and imprint of Penguin Publishing Group, a division of Penguin Random House, LLC. Copyright © 2020 by William Hudson, LLC Dying in the hospital is ...

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It's the winter of 1993. A cold, snowy day. Windy. A blizzard. The phone rings. I'm not on call for my patients today — except for one. Daisy has been in my care since the early 1970s, and given the risk that she may suffer a serious downturn, I've instructed her nursing home to call me whenever necessary. This is that call. Daisy, my dear lady, the old artist, is dying. Throughout her ...

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Google is universally well known as a search and advertising company. Now Google is tapping into the $3.5 trillion health care market. To compete with the Apple Watch, Google acquired Fitbit, the wearable exercise, heart rate and sleep tracking device. Data is king. Voluntarily worn fitness tracking devices are one thing, but Google has entered the realm of the brave new world. A government inquiry has ...

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Who remembers Jack Kevorkian, Doctor Death? He was found guilty in 1998 of second-degree murder. Still, it was because of his advocacy that the terminally ill patient's right to die by physician-assisted suicide was propelled into the public arena. And who can forget Brittany Maynard? It was her advocacy for physician-assisted suicide that reignited the debate on its legality in 2014 — ...

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“Black life remains unexpected.” I have been mulling over these words written by Ibram X. Kendi, in The Atlantic. This followed his piece exploring the “anniversary” of slavery in 2019. He experiences this 400-year marker both with hope and concern given the persistence of a split America: “Black death matters to racist America. Black life matters to African America.” He writes, “there may be no more consequential white ...

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My 83-year-old patient had outlived peoples' expectations on several occasions. Faced with a critical illness three years ago, she underwent emergency surgery and spent several months in the hospital with a series of complications, including septic shock, renal failure, and hospital-acquired pneumonia. I'd seen her in the office for a new visit soon after she was discharged. It took nearly 20 minutes to go through her history before walking into the ...

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The day began in Mom's room with a 10:00 a.m. conference at Upper Valley Medical Center, west of Columbus, Ohio. In attendance were my 93-year-old mother Joanne (now in her third week of hospitalization), her palliative-care nurse Richard, her Episcopal priest Mother Nancy and myself. Mom was on high-flow oxygen therapy delivered through a nasal cannula. Despite this, her blood-oxygen levels were well below normal. Clearly, her lung function was declining. ...

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Returning from my week of vacation, I was greeted by the usual stack of mail, faxes, forms to be signed, throwaway journals, and a fully loaded group of in-basket messages that had piled up in the electronic medical record that needed attending to. One of the pieces of mail was an unsolicited package with a bright red label on it, along with ...

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On October 1, 2019, Nevada began allowing individuals to avoid living in late-stage dementia. The new statute recognizes the legitimacy of an advance directive that instructs health care providers to stop hand feeding food and fluid by mouth. Individuals have already been completing such directives in New York and Washington. The Nevada law is the first that explicitly authorizes such instructions. Growing ...

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I remember it was raining outside when I told Ester she had metastatic stomach cancer.  She cried, as her son sat silently holding one thin hand in two of his.  After a while, she asked, how long did she have to live?  I explained it depended on how well the chemotherapy worked.  She smiled gently, as one humoring a silly child, and said that there would be no treatment. After ...

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Clutching my duffel bag under my rain jacket, I dash from my truck toward a house that was built by Frankie, the man I'm here to give the last massage of his life. I've been massaging people since I was five and have been a professional massage therapist for 40 years. I don't make house calls anymore, but it's an honor to give a man the last massage of his life, ...

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Physician Speaking by KevinMD is the only physician-run, all-physician speakers bureau. We are practicing physicians and experienced keynote speakers, highlighting both large-scale events and intimate day-long workshops. Today’s spotlight physician speaker is Dr. Shoshana Ungerleider. (Please visit our previous spotlight speakers, Dr. David Geier, Dr. Jordan Grumet, and Dr. C. ...

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“Planned death.” When you put it like that, this can only mean one of two things: suicide or murder. For most of us in medicine, the very idea of “planned death” seems safely outside our purview. After all, the bulk of medicine is concerned with staving off death. And the very nature of death’s uncertain timing enables practitioners of everyday medicine to take refuge in its mystery. When necessary, we prognosticate. But ...

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I found you standing on a platform. It was a foggy, damp morning, and your vision was obscured. People came and went, some with urgency, others not so much. Some people you knew, others were strangers. Your husband was usually nearby, often holding your hand, other times out of sight. At times you could hear his voice, but couldn’t find him with your reach. There were noises that would startle you, ...

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