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Latest Posts

Medical Board Exams May Be A Bureaucratic Waste Of Time

Here’s my column in this month’s Emergency Medicine News.

In 1994 I was thrilled to become certified by the American Board of Emergency Medicine. I had worked very hard. I studied and read, I practiced oral board scenarios and even took an oral board preparatory course. It was, I believed, the pinnacle of my medical education. Indeed, if you counted the ACT, the MCAT, the three part board exams along the way and the in-service exams, it was my ultimate test. The one that I had been striving for throughout my higher education experience.

I am now disappointed to find that my certification was inadequate. In fact, all of us who worked so hard for our ABEM certification find ourselves facing ever more stringent rules to maintain that status. And it isn’t only emergency medicine. All medical specialties are facing the same crunch. Our certifying bodies expect more…and more…and more.

And the attitude is all predicated on the subtle but obvious assumption that those of us in practice are not competent to maintain our own knowledge base. Despite spending decades in education that we are not to be trusted. That we are not interested in learning. That we do not attempt to learn and that our practices are not, in fact, the endless learning experiences they actually are. They assume we need more supervision, despite demonstrating (by our continued practice) that we are willing to do hard work, in hard settings, and do the right thing.

Unfortunately, the rank and file Read more »

*This blog post was originally published at*

Avoid Surgeons Without Accredited Training: It Could Save Your Life

Three young mothers under the age of 40 are dead because they wanted to be beautiful. Kellee Lee-Howard wanted a slimmer body. Ditto Maria Shortall and Rohie Kah-Orukatan. Shortall worked as a housekeeper; Lee-Howard was the mother of six kids and Kah-Orukotan died at the same place where she received manicures. What do these women have in common besides being minorities? They had liposuction procedures performed by men who offered a discounted price for an elective surgical procedure. These men professed to be competent in performing the procedures but never had accredited training.

I knew this day was coming. I saw the storm long before the clouds emerged. As the insurance payments for professional medical services decreased and declined, physicians began to look for alternative ways to earn money. But was it ethical? Read more »

*This blog post was originally published at Dr. Linda Burke-Galloway*

Trust Is Critical To Strong Doctor-Patient Relationships

Often the simplest solutions to problems are the best.  So it would seem when it comes to the impact that increasing patient trust in physicians could have on many of the intractable challenges that face the health care industry everyday like non-adherence, lack of involvement, poor health status, dissatisfaction and so on.

I explore the link between patient trust and outcomes in the following infographic I curated and designed.  What surprised me is how a patient’s level of  trust in their doctor, like so much of what I talk about in this blog, boils downs to the patient’s perception of the physician’s ability to communicate: Read more »

*This blog post was originally published at Mind The Gap*

Gastroenterologists Need More Training To Be Competent With Colonoscopies

Much more practice is needed than gastroenterological professional societies currently recommend, concluded Mayo Clinic researchers in Rochester, Minn.

Current recommendations are that 140 procedures should be done before attempting to assess competency, but with no set recommendations on how to assess it, wrote the author of the research. But it takes an average of 275 procedures for a gastroenterology fellow to reach minimal cognitive and motor competency.

Now, the American Society for Gastrointestinal Endoscopy is rewriting its colonoscopy training guidelines to reflect the need for more procedures and emphasize the use of objective, measurable tests in assessing the competency of trainees. Read more »

*This blog post was originally published at ACP Internist*

When Should A Physician Help A Patient Die?

Here’s an interesting case.  A young woman drinks antifreeze to commit suicide, writes a note saying she does not want any medical treatment and calls an ambulance so she can die peacefully with the help of medical support.

I read a lot on  Happy Hospitalist about a patient’s right to demand what ever care they feel is necessary to keep them alive and the duty of the physician to provide whatever care the patient feels they require, no matter how costly or how miniscule the benefit.  Readers like to say it’s not a physician’s obligation to make quality of life decisions for the patient.

So let’s analyze this situation.  Does a  patient have the right to demand medical care and the services of physicians to let them die without pain?  Does a patient have the right to demand a physician order morphine and ativan to keep a depressed but physically intact patient comfortable as they slip away in a horrible antifreeze death under the care of medical personel? Read more »

*This blog post was originally published at A Happy Hospitalist*

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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