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This is a guest post from Carolyn Thomas:

An Open Letter To All Hospital Staff

Dear hospital employees,

After a particularly bizarre experience undergoing a treadmill stress echocardiogram at your hospital recently, I decided to do something that I have never done before: I called the manager of the cardiology department to complain about her staff. (Incidentally, a recent opinion survey of international tourists found that Canadians were #1 in only one category: “Least likely to complain when things go wrong” — so you can appreciate that lodging an official complaint is a fairly big deal here!)

In my best PR fashion, I told the manager how distressing the appointment had been because of the behaviour of the two cardiac technicians in the room. It’s not so much that they were openly rude, but it was their insufferable lack of people skills that had pushed me over the edge. No introductions, no eye contact, no consideration of how awkward this test can be, no explanation of  the test procedures or even the flimsiest effort at polite conversation. To them, I was merely the 1:00 o’clock appointment, the obstacle between them and their next coffee break, just a piece of meat on a slab — but worse, an invisible piece of meat. Read more »

A Team Approach To Primary Care: Why Some Doctors May Resist

What if some physicians actually like the way primary care is currently practiced? It’s hard to believe, considering the majority of studies suggest marked dissatisfaction among primary care doctors, and an increasing prevalence of physician burnout.

The ACP’s Bob Doherty recently summarized an epic Health Affairs article devoted to fixing primary care. The bottom line was that paying primary care doctors better isn’t enough. The whole field needs to be re-invented. Read more »

*This blog post was originally published at*

Healthcare Reform, Direct Patient Care, And The Period Of Discovery

As the period of debate over the Healthcare Reform Bill ends with President Obama penning his signature, one moment from the “debate” at Blair House stands out in my mind. A Republican Congressman sitting behind a copy of the then-current reform bill –- a pile higher than 2,000 pages –- was mocked for using such a prop. It’s complicated to fix healthcare with the laconic response to his theatrics.

Things don’t appear to have grown any simpler as we settle in for a period of discovery to determine exactly what this new law spells out for us in terms of reform. There is no consensus on whether this law will help or hinder, and I’m worried.

I cannot read 2,600 pages written in legalese. I juggle my time now to keep up with the medical literature necessary to adequately do my job and I suspect other physicians struggle similarly. All doctors fight a daily battle with time, trying to care for each patient in the best way possible (this is why many of us walk so fast through hospitals and clinics.) I hope that healthcare reform doesn’t result in less time for direct patient care. Read more »

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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