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Do Physicians Prefer Ventilated And Sedated Patients?

You ever wonder what doctors really think but are afraid to say out loud?  Here’s one example:

“I wish all my patients were on a ventilator”

There’s a reason vented and sedated patients are considered desirable.  In addition to the obvious economic benefits of

There are the less talked about, but equally pleasant side effects most hospitalists, ER doctors, cardiologists, gastroenterologists, pulmonologists,  surgeons, infectious disease doctors, endocrinologists, psychiatrists, rheumatologists, dermatologists, nurses, respiratory therapists and physical therapists wouldn’t admit, but would agree, without hesitation.  As a general rule:

  • Patients on ventilators are just faster, easier and more pleasant to take care of. Read more »

*This blog post was originally published at The Happy Hospitalist*

A Man Is Not Equal To The Sum Of His Medicine Problems

I believe that those controlling the purse strings are steering modern medicine towards the practice of seeing patients more as the sum of their medical problems than as individual people. Patients have become streams of data as opposed to real human lives.

Consider the dynamics of a family: a wife may worry about her husband while their child adores a father she instinctively knows to be irreplaceable. Modern medicine, however, may only see a diabetic with hypertension and a cholesterol-level running too high. The computers programmed for those advocating the power of data to revolutionize medicine would boil this man down to his “meaningful” essence — numbers, for the above imaginary man: 250.00, 401.0, and 272.0. Read more »

The Positive Power Of Compulsive Medicine

Most experienced physicians expect uncertainty in caring for real people with average everyday problems. Yet those inexperienced or uninitiated in medicine tend to see the practice of medicine as exact or even absolute.

I remember waiting in vain as a medical student and resident for my instructors to illuminate a path towards certitude. Instead, I was given something far more real and lasting: An acceptance of the indeterminate mixed with the drive to be compulsive on behalf of my patients.

During my internal medicine internship, I remember a more-senior resident during our daily morning report bemoaning her uncertainty by saying, “But I just don’t know what’s wrong with my patient.” Although she was visibly upset, our program director’s reaction to her comment bordered on amusement, culminating with, for me, an unforgettable response: “Well, you certainly have chosen the wrong profession.”

Read more »

Cognitive Impairment Often Goes Undocumented In Hospital Charts

A recent JHM study found that hospital staff often don’t recognize cognitive impairment in patients age 65 and older. This was especially true for patients on the younger end of the spectrum, and those with more comorbidity.

Of the 424 patients (43%) in the study who were cognitively impaired, 61% weren’t recognized as such by ICD-9 coding. Interestingly, there was no significant difference between patients with documented and undocumented cognitive impairment as far as mortality, length of stay, home discharge, readmission rates, incidence of delirium, or receipt of anticholinergics. One troubling finding: a significant number of patients with cognitive impairment received anticholinergic medication, even though it’s not recommended for patients with any type of CI. Read more »

*This blog post was originally published at ACP Hospitalist*

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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