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Study Shows That Knowledge Of Imminent Death Is Beneficial For Cancer Patients

Providing information of imminent death to cancer patients does not increase pain or anxiety, but is associated with improved care and to increase the likelihood of fulfilling the principles of a good death, a Swedish study found.

Informed patients significantly more often had parenteral drugs prescribed as needed, died in his or her preferred place, and had an informed family who were offered bereavement support. There was no difference between informed and uninformed patients in control of pain, anxiety, nausea, and respiratory tract secretions, although there was a difference in management of confusion. Results appeared in the Journal of Clinical Oncology.

Since 2000, there has been an increasing focus on palliative care in Sweden, the study authors wrote. In 2001, the Swedish Government identified breakpoints for Read more »

*This blog post was originally published at ACP Hospitalist*

What Is The Most Costly Healthcare Expenditure?

The National Institute for Healthcare Management Foundation is a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization focused on healthcare. The foundation just published an excellent report on the distribution of  healthcare costs in the population.

The results indicate that reducing healthcare cost is all about reducing and managing chronic diseases.

U.S. healthcare spending has sharply increased between 2005 and 2009 by 23 percent from $2 trillion to $2.5 trillion per year.

This is a result of a combination of factors. Chief among them is the increasing incidence of obesity.

Who spends the money? Read more »

*This blog post was originally published at Repairing the Healthcare System*

5 Tips On How To Be A Healthcare Survivalist

There are plenty of “survivalists” out there who stock their basements with canned goods, getting ready for some unexpected (and unlikely) apocalypse. Meanwhile there are things that are much more likely to happen to you — like getting sick — which many of us don’t prepare for at all. So to help you get started, here are five important tips on how you can become a healthcare survivalist:

1.  Take care of your chronic conditions. Whether it’s high blood pressure, diabetes, high cholesterol, depression, asthma or any other kind of ailment, do what it takes to manage your own care. Take your medications and follow your doctors’ instructions. Why? Because if you don’t, your condition can get worse and lead to even more serious problems. As much of a pain as it may (literally) be, there’s a reason the old saying “an ounce of prevention” still resonates today — because it’s true.

2.  Live a healthy lifestyle. Everyone gives you this advice, but with studies showing that 42% of Americans will be obese by 2050, it doesn’t seem to be getting through. Denial can wonderfully appealing;  but when it comes to your health, it can also kill you. Stop smoking, exercise, and eat right. You may find that your employer has programs in place that will help you do all of those things, and many of them work. Why not give one of them a try? You can’t improve your life all at once, but you can start. Your life will be happier if you keep yourself healthy. So rather than whistling past the graveyard, jog past it. Read more »

*This blog post was originally published at See First Blog*

Quality Of Life And The Importance Of “Shay Days”

As a medical professional who often treats children with chronic diseases, my patients turn to me not only for treatment advice but often for advice on how to improve their quality of life. I often have difficulty addressing the latter as there is a paucity of research on quality of life outcomes as compared to biomedical outcomes.

However, preliminary data from DR Walker et al. (1) have shown that comprehensive disease management improves quality of life and thereby reduces medical costs for some common chronic illnesses. Recently, a patient shared a story with me that was written by an anonymous author which demonstrates the powerful effect of seemingly small efforts on the quality of life of a disabled child. 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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