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Latest Posts

10 New Year’s Resolutions For Doctors And Patients

#1 Doctor: Resolve to let patients speak without interruption and describe their symptoms.
Patient: Resolve to focus on the problem I am seeing the doctor about and not come with a list of 10 complaints for a 15-minute office visit.

#2 Doctor: Resolve to keep a pleasant tone of voice when answering night and weekend phone calls from the answering service, patients, or nurses.
Patient: Resolve to get my prescriptions filled during office hours, not forget my medications while traveling, and to use night and weekend phone calls for emergencies only.

#3 Doctor: Resolve to exercise a minimum of four times a week for better health.
Patient: Ditto.

#4 Doctor: Resolve to train my staff and model excellent customer service for patients.
Patient: Resolve to understand that getting an instant referral, prescription, note for jury duty, or letter to my insurance company from my doctor is not my God-given right and I will stop [complaining] if it doesn’t happen the day I request it. Read more »

*This blog post was originally published at EverythingHealth*

8 Things You Shouldn’t Keep From Your Doctor

It’s important to have an open relationship with your primary care physician because the more he or she knows about your health and lifestyle, the better able he or she is to diagnose illnesses as they come up.

You wouldn’t take your car to a mechanic and not tell him that the brake is sticking, and a human organism is thousands of times more complicated than a car. But patients are shy. They’re embarrassed. They don’t want you to think badly about them, so they often leave out important information that’s critical for the physician to know. Read more »

*This blog post was originally published at EverythingHealth*

Keeping Patients Quiet

Some things are just part of the problem in healthcare. The company Medical Justice is one such thing. I’ve written about them before. Medical Justice sees the medical malpractice crisis and devised a solution: Muzzle the patients. It’s as misguided as it is ridiculous.

Medical Justice says doctors need to stop their patients from saying bad things about them. They charge doctors hundreds — even thousands — of dollars a year to help do this.

Under one of their programs, they give doctors contracts to use with their patients. The doctor tells the patient that they must agree to the terms of the contract before the doctor agrees to see them.  Okay, so there are lots of forms that patients need to sign when they go to the doctor. What makes these so different? Read more »

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

I’m Your Doctor, And I’m Worth It

Rx Vending MachineI saw the note on the patient’s chart before I opened the door: “Patient is upset that he had to come in.”

I opened the door and was greeted by a gentleman with his arms crossed tightly across his chest and a stern expression. I barely recognized him, having only seen him a handful of times over the past few years. Scrawled on the patient history sheet in the space for the reason for his visit were the words, “Because I was forced to come in.”

My stomach churned. I opened his chart and looked at his problem list, which included high blood pressure and high cholesterol –- both treated with medications. He was last in my office in November — of 2008. I blinked, looked up at his scowling face, and frowned back. ”You haven’t been in the office for over 18 months. It was really time for you to come in,” I said, trying to remain calm as I spoke.

He sat for a moment, then responded with very little emotion. “I’m doing fine. You could’ve just ordered my labs and called in my prescriptions. I don’t know why I had to be seen.” Read more »

*This blog post was originally published at Musings of a Distractible Mind*

Relational Medicine: The Joy Of Primary Care

I was happy when I looked at [the day's] schedule. Two husband-and-wife pairs were on my schedule, both of whom have been seeing me for over 10 years. Their visits are comfortable for me — we talk about life and they are genuinely interested in how my family is doing. They remember that I have a son in college, and want to know how my blog and podcast are doing. I can tell that they not only like me as a doctor — they see me, to some degree, as a friend.

Another patient on the schedule is a woman from South America. She has also been seeing me for over 10 years. I helped her through her husband’s sudden death in an accident. She brings me gifts whenever she goes on her trips, and also brings very tasteful gifts for my wife. Today she brought me a Panama hat.

I know these people well. I know about their past illnesses and those of their children. I know about their grandchildren, having hospitalized one of them over the past year for an infection. I know about the trauma in their lives as well as what they take joy in. They tell me about their trips and tell me their opinions about the healthcare reform bill.

I spend a large part of their visits being social. I can do this because I know their medical situation so well. I am their doctor and have an immediate grasp of the context of any new problems in a way that nobody else can. Read more »

*This blog post was originally published at Musings of a Distractible Mind*

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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