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Caregiver Burden

It was a straightforward phone message (names changed): “Hey Dr. S., this is Bobbie Jones, April Dixon’s granddaughter. I was calling to inform you that April passed away today at City Hospital. They said she was bleeding in her stomach or something. I’m not quite what sure what happened, but she got real sick. But she’s gone, so, thanks so much. You’ve been a real neat doctor, and it’s been good working with you through the years taking care of my grandmother. Take care. Bye.”

Bobbie Jones is a saint. Pure and simple. She took care of her 88-year-old grandmother with tender, loving care. I am certain if left to the vagaries of the “healthcare system” that her grandmother would have died at least three years ago, maybe earlier.

Ms. Jones will get no recognition. No income. No honors, save this blog post which she’ll never see. She will get a letter from me, expressing my condolences and appreciation for the love and care that she provided her grandma. She singlehandedly advocated for an octogenarian with advanced dementia and probable cancer (we were never able to get a definitive diagnosis of it) and gave her a quality of life that I would want were I in her grandma’s shoes. Read more »

*This blog post was originally published at ACP Internist*

The Reason I Stayed A Doctor

This week I traveled to a small town outside Chicago to help my mother with her move from an assisted living facility to Alabama so she can live with my sister. I suspect many people, thanks to current economic times, have realized that the savings that were supposed to be there are not and change must happen. Such is the case with my mother.

It’s sure to be an emotional time, one which both of us had hoped to avoid. For her, she will be moving from the region of her childhood, her college, her marriage, her first home, her dream home, her caldron of first-grade student graduates and her dearest friends. For me, I will miss our spontaneous visits, morning coffee conversations, trips to the local restaurant in the town of my childhood, her gentle smile, and her helpful advice.

But this is not what I’ll miss the most. For me, I’ll miss the single greatest gift she could ever give a son: her kindness. Read more »

*This blog post was originally published at Dr. Wes*

The Win-Win Referral

One of my patients is an elderly woman who is completely bedbound due to osteoarthritis. Since she’s considered “too old,” she isn’t considered a surgical candidate for a knee replacement. Her son, George, is her caregiver.

George had been referred to our practice through word-of-mouth from a geriatric care consultant. When he called me for an initial visit, his mother had a spot on her left forearm that was growing rapidly. The nodule was red and tender. Both of them wanted a doctor to look at and remove it, and at the house if possible. Read more »

From “Winnie The Pooh”: Edward Bear And Primary Care

Here is Edward Bear, coming downstairs now, bump, bump, bump, on the back of his head, behind Christopher Robin. It is, as far as he knows, the only way of coming downstairs, but sometimes he feels that there really is another way, if only he could stop bumping for a moment and think of it. 

– From A.A. Milne’s “Winnie the Pooh and the House at Pooh Corner.”

Internists, I expect, will identify with Edward Bear.

Richard Baron’s study in the NEJM on the amount of work he and his colleagues do outside of an office visit — the “bump, bump, bump” of a busy internal medicine (IM) practice — has resonated with many of his colleagues.

Jay Larson, who often posts comments on this blog, did a similar analysis for his general IM practice in Montana, and found that for every one patient seen in the office, tasks are done for 6 other unscheduled patients. Jay writes: “So really there [are] internists [who] are managing about 130 patients per day. Not much consolation when they only get paid for 18 per day.” Read more »

*This blog post was originally published at The ACP Advocate Blog by Bob Doherty*

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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