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Patients: Confused Tourists In The World Of Health Care

Being diagnosed with a serious illness is like being drop-kicked into a foreign country: you don’t know the language, you don’t understand the culture, you don’t have a map and you desperately want to find your way home.”

Eric Parker @

I wrote that following a cancer-related diagnosis six years ago that resulted in removal of a part of my colon. One year ago this week I was in the hospital longing for home while recovering from surgery for stomach cancer. Today I am traveling in Spain (feeling fine and minus the drop-kicked part) and am reminded of this analogy every day.

For example, I couldn’t figure out how to punch my ticket on the city bus. The driver told me in Spanish that I barely comprehend to turn the ticket over. No luck. His voice rose: “You put it in upside down.” Again, no luck. He shouted: “Use the other damn machine!”

Stupid tourist.

There’s a man who sits at the front desk at the clinic where I get most of my cancer care. He greets every person who walks past his desk as though Read more »

*This blog post was originally published at Prepared Patient Forum: What It Takes Blog*

How To Get The Most Out Of Your Doctor Visit

Kevin Pho, MD, primary care physician in Nashua, N.H., blogs at, member of USA TODAY’S board of contributors and a guest to the Health in 30® Radio Show, writes about the importance of doctors engaging in social media to communicate with patients.

He writes in an op-ed in USA TODAY “Doctors ignore Internet at their own peril” on January 27, 2010:

“Raise your hand if you’ve ever left a physician’s office without fully understanding what the doctor just told you. According to The New England Journal of Medicine, half of patients admit to not understanding what their doctor told them during an office visit.

As a primary care physician, being unable to clearly communicate with patients is frustrating. The typical, 15-minute office visit often is not sufficient for a thorough discussion. A better way to connect with patients is needed.”

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*This blog post was originally published at Health in 30*

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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