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Failure For A Doctor

I went to a patient’s funeral this past weekend. I generally don’t do that for people whose relationship I’ve built in the exam room. It’s a complex set of emotions, but invariably some family member will start telling others what a nice doctor I am and how much the person had liked me as a doctor. It’s awkward getting a eulogy (literally good words) spoken about me at someone else’s funeral. This patient I had known prior to them becoming my patient, and his wife had been very nice to us when we first moved here from up north.

But that’s not why I am writing this. As I was sitting in the service, the thought occurred to me that a patient’s funeral would be considered by many to be a failure for a doctor. Certainly there are times when that is the case — when the doctor could have intervened and didn’t, or intervened incorrectly, causing the person to die earlier than they could have. Every doctor has some moments where regrets over missed or incorrect diagnosis take their toll. We are imperfect humans, we have bad days, and we don’t always give our patients our best. We have limits. Read more »

*This blog post was originally published at Musings of a Distractible Mind*

“Team Care” In The Patient-Centered “Medical Home?”

“Team care” has become a rallying cry for those who think the patient-centered medical home is bad for healthcare reform. Comments on a recent blog post in the New York Times provide a good example of this. When patients get sick, as the argument goes, they want to see their doctor — not some nurse or PA who they don’t know. I agree.

There are a whole bunch of things wrong with all the current focus on team care in the patient-centered medical home. Read more »

*This blog post was originally published at Mind The Gap*

How Doctors Think Vs. How Patients Think

How Doctors ThinkIf you want to see the difference between how doctors and patients think, read Jerome Groopman’s “How Doctors Think” and Thomas Goetz’s “The Decision Tree.” The contrast is striking.

“How Doctors Think,” while offering a comprehensive review of the cognitive missteps made by physicians, is terminally physician-centric in its analysis of the relationship we share with patients. “The Decision Tree,” while offering a novel blueprint for self-reliance in health, seems almost sheepish in its recognition that physicians are even really that important. The muted physician cameos of “The Decision Tree” stand in stark contrast to Groopman’s Harvard-trained masters of the universe. Read more »

*This blog post was originally published at 33 Charts*

Keeping The “Primary” In Care

He came in for his regular blood pressure and cholesterol check. On the review of systems sheet he circled “depression.”

“I see you circled depression,” I said after dealing with his routine problems. “What’s up?”

“I don’t think I am actually clinically depressed, but I’ve just been finding it harder to get going recently,” he responded. “I can force myself to do things, but I’ve never have had to force myself.”

“I noticed that you retired recently. Do you think that has something to do with your depression?” I asked.

“I’m not really sure. I don’t feel like it makes me depressed. I was definitely happy to stop going to work.”

I have taken care of him for many years, and know him to be a solid guy. “I have seen this in a lot in men who retire. They think it’s going to be good to rest, and it is for the first few months. But after a while, the novelty wears off and they feel directionless. They don’t want to spend the rest of their lives entertaining themselves or completing the ‘honey do’ list, but they don’t want to go back to work either.”

He looked up and me, “Yeah, I guess that sounds like me.” Read more »

*This blog post was originally published at ACP Internist*

Patient-Doctor Facebook “Friends” Could Be A HIPAA Violation

Should you friend your doctor on Facebook? It’s a question that’s gaining increasing relevance as Facebook increases its social networking dominance. I’ve touched upon the issue in the past. So has the New England Journal of Medicine.

Washington, DC, physician Katherine Chretian gives her take on the issue in a recent USA Today op-ed. She is an expert of the Facebook-medicine intersection, having authored a JAMA study on the issue.

She says, no, doctors should not be friending their patients:

Having a so-called dual relationship with a patient — that is, a financial, social or professional relationship in addition to the therapeutic relationship — can lead to serious ethical issues and potentially impair professional judgment. We need professional boundaries to do our job well.

Furthermore, there’s the little matter of patient privacy and HIPAA. I wasn’t aware of this, but simply becoming Facebook friends with patients can infringe upon uncertain ground. Read more »

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

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