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Latest Posts

When Age Plays A Role In Medical Decision-Making

Missed Diagnosis Lawsuit and the Dynamics of Age Related to Risk

Years ago I had the opportunity to care for Mr Smith, a 101 year old man who presented to the hospital with chest pain and shortness of breath. Besides having  101 year old heart and lungs that tend to follow their own  biological clock,  this man also had a massive chest tumor filling 85% of one side of his thorax.

Whoah really?  What does that mean in a 101 year old man?  Most folks this age have exceeded the normal bell curve distribution of life and disease.  When you reach 101 years old, there isn’t a lot of chronic anything you can catch with the expected time you have left on earth.

Every now and then, however, we find patients who are the exception to the rule, such as the 101 year old guy that present with a new cancer diagnosis.  That’s where being an internist comes in handy. Read more »

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

Physician Shows Gratitude For His Often Unappreciated Colleagues

Today I would like to say thanks to a group of colleagues that too often go un-thanked.

These would be my hospital-based internal medicine friends: hospitalists are what they are called.

This idea came to me after reading Dr Robert Centor’s post on KevinMD. In his usual concise manner, he laments the lack of respect that many sub-specialists show hospitalists.

I feel differently about my hard-working colleagues.

As a sub, sub-specialist who works primarily in the hospital, I would like to say how grateful I am to have knowledgeable, hospital-based internists available.

I believe, and write frequently about the importance of seeing the forest through the trees. A good doctor must see the big picture: a little atrial fib, for instance, isn’t a major problem if you can’t move, eat or have widespread Cancer.

But for good patient care, the details are important too. Hospitalists are good at details. In fact, Read more »

*This blog post was originally published at Dr John M*

Medical Students Deterred From Primary Care

Primary care physicians are getting paid more, two surveys agree, while hospital employment is rising.

Internists earned $205,379 in median compensation in 2010, an increase of 4.21% over the previous year, reported the Medical Group Management Association’s (MGMA’s) Physician Compensation and Production Survey: 2011 Report Based on 2010 Data. Family practitioners (without obstetrics) reported median compensation of $189,402. Pediatric/adolescent medicine physicians earned $192,148 in median compensation, an increase of 0.39% since 2009.

Among specialists, anesthesiologists reported decreased compensation, as did gastroenterologists and radiologists. Psychiatrists, dermatologists, neurologists and general surgeons reported an increase in median compensation since 2009.

Regional data reveals primary and specialty physicians in the South reported the highest earnings at $216,170 and $404,000 respectively. Primary and specialty-care physicians in the Eastern section reported the lowest median compensation at $194,409 and $305,575. This year’s report provides data on nearly 60,000 providers.

Recruiting firm Merritt Hawkins reported that general internal medicine was one of its top two most requested searches for the sixth consecutive year. Family physicians were the firm’s most requested type of doctor, followed by internists, hospitalists, psychiatrists, and orthopedic surgeons.

Average compensation for internists Read more »

*This blog post was originally published at ACP Hospitalist*

Internists Not Using Simple Test (Ankle-Brachial Index) For Peripheral Artery Disease

Despite poor awareness and a lack of training on handling peripheral artery disease, internists can and should be able to recognize the symptoms and manage 95% of such cases. Experts advise using the ankle-brachial index as a quick and effective diagnostic method.

Rebecca J. Beyth, ACP Member, demonstrates the ease and quickness of the ankle-brachial index in diagnosing peripheral artery disease. Photo by Eric Zamora/UF News BureauBut internists often don’t. As was reported in ACP Internist‘s previous cover story on the subject, the ankle-brachial index can be a major part of preventing peripheral artery disease, itself a major predictor of strokes and heart attacks, over and above the Framingham risk score.

The ankle-brachial index is the ratio of the ankle to the arm systolic pressure. A ratio of 0.90 or less indicates peripheral artery disease. Its sensitivity is 79% to 95%, and its specificity is 95% to 100%. It takes less than five minutes to perform in the office.

Yet, among the 85 respondents, 36 (42.35%) said “It’s a quick and easy test.” Another 27 (31.76%) thought, “It’s difficult to fit into the standard visit.” The final 22 (25.88%) said, “I don’t use the ABI to screen patients for PAD.” Read more »

*This blog post was originally published at ACP Internist*

Defining Family Practice

Family DoctorI like Dr. Rob, the one with the “distractible mind.” And although I thoroughly agree with the stance he takes in his recent post against cholesterol screening in kids, I must take issue with his opening statement:

I have a unique vantage point when it comes to the issue universal cholesterol screening in children, when compared to most pediatricians. My unique view stems from the fact that I am also an internist who deals with those children after they grow up on KFC Double Downs.


“Unique: existing as the only one or as the sole example; single; solitary in type or characteristics.”

Your med-peds training allows you to follow patients from birth to death (but no obstetrics or gynecology). You can care for all organ systems and all stages of disease (but without as much training in psychiatry). Congratulations! You’ve just (re)invented family practice (except for the above shortcomings). Oh, wait — that’s already a recognized specialty with its own residency programs, boards and everything like that, forty years now.

This misuse of the word “unique” is one of my pet peeves. “Unique?” I don’t think that word means what you think it means. After twenty years in practice, I agree that there probably isn’t much difference between what Dr. Rob does and what I do. After twenty years, I’m not even sure how much relevance remains from our “training.” Still, there remains a great deal of confusion about the very real differences between family practice and med-peds residencies. Read more »

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

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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