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Latest Posts

Doctors And Work-Life Boundaries: Keeping An EMR In Its Place

I’ve had a longstanding policy in my office that routine prescription refills will only be addressed during regular office hours. No evenings; no weekends; if you need a refill of your long-term chronic medications, you need to call during regularly scheduled office hours, five days a week. You can leave a message if you like, but you should not expect us to call in the medication until the office is open.

The main reason for this policy has always been medical: prescription medication requires appropriate monitoring. From the moment I hung out my shingle, I’ve made it my habit always to write enough refills on your medication to last until the next time I need to see you. In all likelihood if you need a refill, what you really need is a visit.

The logical reason for the policy is the need to consult the medical record before authorizing refills. And when those records are contained on bits of dead trees on shelves in the office, there’s no way I can access them if I’m not physically there. I’ve been known to drive out to the office at decidedly odd hours for the express purpose of consulting those records so that I can provide appropriate care to my patients. That has always been the bottom line for me, and always will. Read more »

*This blog post was originally published at Musings of a Dinosaur*

Should Doctors Work Weekends?

Peter Orszag wants doctors to work weekends. The former director of the White House Office of Management and Budget wrote as much in this past weekend’s New York Times:

Doctors, like most people, don’t love to work weekends, and they probably don’t enjoy being evaluated against their peers. But their industry can no longer afford to protect them from the inevitable. Imagine a drugstore open only five days a week, or a television network that didn’t measure its ratings. Improving the quality of health care and reducing its cost will require that doctors make many changes — but working weekends and consenting to quality management are two clear ones.

And he’s right, to a point.

I’ve pointed to studies showing that mortality rises on the weekends, in part due to skeleton staffs that hospitals employ on Saturday and Sunday. And, since Mr. Orszag is an economist, the cost factor is noted. Tests that get pushed off until Monday cost the health system serious dollars. The problem I have is that Mr. Orszag, like most health reformers, offers doctors little incentive in return. Read more »

*This blog post was originally published at KevinMD.com*

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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