Physician

Op-ed: Humor can be healing for both doctors and patients

A version of this op-ed, co-written with Doug Farrago, was published on October 26th, 2009 in Medscape.

It’s tough to be a doctor these days. Whether it’s listening to the difficulties of our medical colleagues as they try to best care for their patients, or engaging other health professionals about the uncertainties surrounding health reform, we’ve noticed a tense, sometimes gloomy, atmosphere among physicians.

A recent survey from the Annals of Internal …

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Two nurses face jail time for reporting a doctor to the Texas Medical Board

There’s a disturbing case in Texas, involving two whistle-blowing nurses who reported a physician to the Texas Medical Board (TMB).

Apparently, they took offense at the physician who was peddling herbal medications in the emergency room, among other deeds. Unable to convince hospital administration to discipline him, they reported him to the Board.

And here’s where it gets disturbing.

Angered by the action, the physician then filed a criminal complaint, …

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Should doctors be paid to e-mail their patients?

by Michael Kirsch, MD

This is a less controversial issue than patients ‘friending’ their doctors on Facebook, which I oppose. Although most physicians’ offices are not e-mailing with patients, perhaps they should. There are several obvious advantages.

* Decompress phone lines, which are suffocating nearly every medical practice in America.

* Relieve patients of the cruel and unusual punishment of languishing on ‘hold’ listening to elevator music or dead air.

* Allow office staff …

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A doctor in Cuba becomes a nurse in the United States

When physicians in other countries come to the United States, they often become nurses or lab technicians, rather than re-taking rigorous board exams to remain doctors.

One example includes doctors from Cuba. According to this story in The New York Times, “6,000 medical professionals, many of them physicians, have left Cuba in the last six years.” Cuban doctors, who often earn $25 per month, find it significantly more …

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Robert Ricketson and the surgical screwdriver medical malpractice case: The medical records revisited

Robert Ricketson is a spine surgeon who was involved in a high profile 2003 medical malpractice case in Hawaii where a surgical screwdriver was implanted into a patient’s back. This is his account of the ordeal.

by Robert Ricketson

I am writing today out of frustration and anger, as I am frankly quite tired of passively going along as my name appears year after year in malicious “medical blogs” and …

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How much time do doctors spend on paperwork?

A common complaint is that doctors these days are spending more time doing clerical tasks.

Examples include filling out pre-authorization forms, talking to health plans for pre-certifications on imaging studies, and spending time jumping through bureaucratic hoops. Generally, you do not need a medical degree to do these tasks.

Bob Doherty points to a study that gives some numbers to back up the claims. Primary care doctors spend about 3.5 …

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Nighthawks, dayhawks, and the demise of the American radiologist

More hospitals are resorting to so-called “dayhawk” radiology services to read their x-rays.

It’s modeled after the “nighthawk” model, where radiologists (via Shadowfax), in some cases as far away as India, remotely read films in the middle of the night.

Now, the phenomenon is happening during business hours as well, which according to radiologist Giles W. L. Boland, means that “some radiologists can no longer assume long-term …

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Did the Canadian health system fail Natasha Richardson?

Would Natasha Richardson be alive today if she had gone skiing in the United States instead?

I don’t think it would have made a difference.

To recap the tragedy, Ms. Richardson died from an epidural bleed, after she fell while skiing. Her presentation was somewhat classic, with the well-described “lucid” period before she deteriorated.

According to Canada’s Globe and Mail, “ambulance workers were not …

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Laborists, and how rising malpractice premiums and the physician payment system are fueling the rise of hospital-only obstetricians

Meet the obstetric version of hospitalists, known as laborists.

Faced with rising malpractice premiums, and the increasing financial pressure to see more patients in the office, more obstetrician/gynecologists are ceasing to deliver babies. In fact, according to Massachusetts’ largest malpractice carrier, more than half of the OB/GYN’s they cover have dropped obstetrics.

It’s no wonder, as “an obstetrician-gynecologist in Massachusetts generally pays between $75,000 and $100,000 …

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