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Large Healthcare Systems: Are They Gouging Patients?

With patients having to pay more of what’s charged for their healthcare, comparisons between medical systems like this one in Pennsylvania make us wonder if bigger necessarily means better. From the Times-Tribune:

The Pennsylvania Health Care Cost Containment Council study looked at four regional hospitals that offer cardiac surgery: Geisinger Wyoming Valley, Plains Twp.; Community Medical Center and Mercy Hospital, Scranton; and Pocono Medical Center, East Stroudsburg.

Among the four, Geisinger Wyoming Valley carries the biggest price tag. In 2008, the average hospital charge for a coronary artery bypass graft surgery was $108,029 and the average hospital charge for valve surgery was $132,740, according to information in the report. Read more »

*This blog post was originally published at Dr. Wes*

Phylicia Rashad Discusses Peripheral Artery Disease

Many members of Phylicia Rashad’s* family have had peripheral artery disease (P.A.D.), strokes, and heart attacks. In a candid interview with me, she describes how her healthy lifestyle (regular exercise, no smoking, and a Mediterranean diet) has helped her to beat the odds and avoid the disease.

Dr. Val: I’m so sorry to hear that 8 of your relatives have suffered stokes or heart attacks. What was that like for you?

Ms. Rashad: All of these relatives of mine had diabetes. At the time of their deaths, P.A.D. was not a recognized condition. It wasn’t regularly diagnosed until the 1990s. I remember my father complaining of his legs cramping a lot. At the time we chalked it up to him being on his feet all day as a dentist, but I wish we had known that it was a sign of something much more serious. Things were different back then – people just accepted that if you had diabetes, you were going to lose toes or limbs. They accepted that as we age, we’d likely have a stroke or a heart attack. No one thought about preventing that from occurring.

Dr. Val: What do you do differently to help insure that you don’t follow in their footsteps?

Ms. Rashad: I eat differently, and have done so for decades. I also get regular exercise. Unfortunately, my hard working family was in the habit of coming home, having dinner and relaxing on the couch after work. This contributed to their diabetes and P.A.D. issues. Interestingly, my relatives who worked on a farm lived into a ripe old age with no chronic disease. Read more »

Peripheral Artery Disease: Phylicia Rashad’s Story

Many members of Phylicia Rashad’s family have had peripheral artery disease (P.A.D.), strokes, and heart attacks. In a candid interview with me, she describes how her healthy lifestyle (regular exercise, no smoking, and a Mediterranean diet) has helped her to beat the odds and avoid the disease. To listen to our conversation, please click here. Ms. Rashad begins speaking at about minute 10:30 of the podcast.

Dr. Val: I’m so sorry to hear that 8 of your relatives have suffered stokes or heart attacks. What was that like for you?

Read more »

Peripheral Artery Disease: Red Flag For Stroke and Heart Attack Risks

Peripheral Artery (Arterial) Disease (P.A.D.) is an under-recognized and under-diagnosed condition, yet it serves as an important warning sign for those at high risk for stroke and heart attack. Even though we have an inexpensive and non-invasive test for P.A.D. very few people have the test done. I interviewed Dr. Gary Schaer, Director of the Cardiac Cath Lab at Rush University Medical Center in Chicago, about P.A.D. and also spoke with actor Phylicia Rashad about her family’s trials and tribulations with P.A.D. This post is devoted to Dr. Schaer’s insights on the medical aspects of the disease, and the next post focuses on Ms. Rashad’s personal story.  To listen to the entire podcast of our interview, please click here.

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Latest Interviews

IDEA Labs: Medical Students Take The Lead In Healthcare Innovation

It’s no secret that doctors are disappointed with the way that the U.S. healthcare system is evolving. Most feel helpless about improving their work conditions or solving technical problems in patient care. Fortunately one young medical student was undeterred by the mountain of disappointment carried by his senior clinician mentors…

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How To Be A Successful Patient: Young Doctors Offer Some Advice

I am proud to be a part of the American Resident Project an initiative that promotes the writing of medical students residents and new physicians as they explore ideas for transforming American health care delivery. I recently had the opportunity to interview three of the writing fellows about how to…

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Latest Book Reviews

Book Review: Is Empathy Learned By Faking It Till It’s Real?

I m often asked to do book reviews on my blog and I rarely agree to them. This is because it takes me a long time to read a book and then if I don t enjoy it I figure the author would rather me remain silent than publish my…

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The Spirit Of The Place: Samuel Shem’s New Book May Depress You

When I was in medical school I read Samuel Shem s House Of God as a right of passage. At the time I found it to be a cynical yet eerily accurate portrayal of the underbelly of academic medicine. I gained comfort from its gallows humor and it made me…

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Eat To Save Your Life: Another Half-True Diet Book

I am hesitant to review diet books because they are so often a tangled mess of fact and fiction. Teasing out their truth from falsehood is about as exhausting as delousing a long-haired elementary school student. However after being approached by the authors’ PR agency with the promise of a…

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