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Latest Posts

Interaction With A Patient Shows Physician A Major Transition In Medicine

Sometime around 1998 in the Texas Medical Center:

DrV: (enters exam room) Hey, How are you? I’m Bryan Vartabedian (extends hand).

Father: (arms crossed, smiling, leaning against wall) Oh I know who you are, Doc.  And I know where you went to school, where you’ve lived, if you’ve been sued and a few other things. And I’m fine, by the way.

DrV: Um, Okay. (Shakes hands with father. Looking to child, scruffing his hair).  And this must be Caleb.

An odd moment, for sure. When it happened I didn’t know what it was about. After similar encounters I understood.  It was about where patients found themselves in the early days of the information revolution.  And there was the father who wheeled into the exam room two large boxes of printouts perched on a dolly.  Inkjet validation of his role in the decision about his son’s surgery.

These situations illustrate Read more »

*This blog post was originally published at 33 Charts*

Cartoon Shows A Common Misconception About The “E-Patient”

An SPM member emailed this, with the playful subject line “A New e-Patient”:

© Copyright 2011 King Features Syndicate. All Rights Reserved.

(Click the image to go to the high-res on the comic’s site; © Copyright 2011 King Features Syndicate, all rights reserved.)

Funny comic, but it’s a common misconception that “e-patient” = anyone who googles (or bings, or webmd’s, or…). Wrong. E-patients are empowered, engaged, educated etc – not mindless, and not likely to freak out at the first thing they read.

When you search Read more »

*This blog post was originally published at*

Should Doctors Want Their Patients To Use The Web To Stay Informed?

Recently, I’ve had an interview with a national newspaper and the woman who performed the interview told me she was surprised that I seemed to be the first doctor in her life who was happy about patients using the internet. Well, she surprised me with this statement as I’ve never thought about that before. But she must be right. There are many doctors who get upset when they find out the patient tried to find information online. They are frustrated as they don’t even know how to use these online tools and have no idea how to help the patients in this perspective.

Myself, I’m pretty much happy about it. I love to hear patients Read more »

*This blog post was originally published at ScienceRoll*

Liposuction-Related Death And Finding A Safe Doctor

From the Chicago Tribune:

A 35-year-old woman who wanted to resculpt herself for the new year with liposuction and a buttocks enhancement is dead from apparent complications of plastic surgery, her husband and lawyer said Thursday. Miami customer service representative Lidvian Zelaya died Monday, hours after the operation began at Strax Rejuvenation and Aesthetics Institute, a busy cosmetic surgery practice in Lauderhill. Zelaya went to Strax to have fat suctioned from her back and belly, and to have the material injected into her backside, family representatives said. She chose Strax because she got a good deal. Aronfeld said the operation was to be done by Dr. Roger L. Gordon. He was disciplined by the state in connection with two plastic surgery deaths in 2004.

This is getting ridiculous. Liposuction deaths have been frequent in the media as of late. And this surgeon, Roger L. Gordon, M.D., is a real, board-certified plastic surgeon as per the American Board of Medical Specialties (ABMS).

Then again, plastic surgery IS surgery and therefore has risk associated with it. Was this an unfortunate accident or something else? How can a potential patient choose well to limit the risk of cosmetic surgery? Read more »

*This blog post was originally published at Truth in Cosmetic Surgery*

Practice Variation: Essential To e-Patient Awareness

This is the first of the follow-up posts I hope to write from participating in the Salzburg Global Seminar titled “The Greatest Untapped Resource in Healthcare? Informing and Involving Patients in Decisions about Their Medical Care.”

One of our purposes on this site is to help people develop e-patient skills, so they can be more effectively engaged in their care. One aspect is shared decision making, which we wrote about in September. A related topic, from August, is understanding the challenges of pathology and diagnosis. Both posts teach about being better informed partners for our healthcare professionals.

I’ve recently learned of an another topic, which I’m sure many of you know: Practice variation. This is a big subject, and I’ll have several posts about it. It’s complex, the evidence about it is overwhelming, and its cost is truly enormous. Read more »

*This blog post was originally published at*

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 Cartoon

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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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