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Why Secure E-Mail Is Not Healthcare Communications Utopia

I am fortunate to work at an institution that has a fully deployed electronic medical record (EMR) system that incorporates outpatient physician notes and inpatient notes under one umbrella. By and large, patient care is facilitated since both outpatient and inpatient notes appear simultaneously in the patient’s chart, along side telephone messages and clinical results. While there are plenty of kinks to work out, most of us have to admit that there are huge patient care advantages to such a system.

The system also promotes a secure e-mail service for patients to e-mail their physician and a mechanism to have their results forwarded directly to them. With the ability to empower patients directly, many would consider this as the Utopian model for heath care delivery of the future.

And what could be better? Patients get virtually unlimited access to their health care provider, 24-7. Results are whisked to the patient. Speed. Efficiency. “Green.” It’s all good, right?

Maybe. Read more »

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

Should Physicians Accept Gifts From Patients?

Are gifts for doctors appropriate in the physician-patient relationship? Or should doctors refuse all offerings of gratitude that come their way?

Patients often give gifts to doctors as an appreciative sign of great thanks for  for the care they provide.  Some years I may go unappreciated for my efforts.   Some years I get thanked for a job well done for spending time with the patient and their family.   Some years I have patients that hate me.  Some years I even I have  patients that hate me and love me.   Read more »

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

Female Surgeon Propositioned By Patient Via Facebook

There is an interesting article in E-Health Europe about how patients try to contact doctors on Facebook, the popular social networking site, and how doctors shouldn’t respond to them. In my “Medicine and Web 2.0” university credit course, we cover this important issue several times and I try to provide students with useful pieces of advice about how to avoid such problems.

The Medical Defence Union said it was aware of a number of cases where patients have attempted to proposition doctors by sending them an unsolicited message on Facebook or similar sites.

The medical defence body said it would be “wholly inappropriate” to respond to a patient making an advance in such a way. Read more »

*This blog post was originally published at ScienceRoll*

Threat Of Medical Malpractice Is The Only Force Opposing Healthcare Rationing

DrRich’s conviction that covert rationing is the engine that drives many (if not most) of the bizarre behaviors we see in the American healthcare system leads him to take positions on certain contentious issues that do not endear him to either his progressive or his conservative friends.

One of these issues is malpractice liability reform.

DrRich wrote about this some time ago (here and here), and as a result managed to alienate more than a few of his readers, especially the ones who are doctors. So if he were smart, DrRich would leave it alone. (After all, a lot of readers have long since forgotten precisely why they do not like DrRich, and merely harbor toward him a vague sense of unease and distrust. This, DrRich finds, he can live with.)

But a couple of things prompt DrRich to take up this topic once again.  Read more »

*This blog post was originally published at The Covert Rationing Blog*

A Nurse Asks: What Are You Doing For Your Midlife Crisis?

congo-nurse1Nurse Andrea Bartlett is literally having a meltdown. She is in the midst of her midlife crisis. Nurses like her are easy to spot. She’s having a hot flash, note the hand to her forehead and the look on her face that says, “Crap, I’m going to pass out,” and she’s reliving her hippy Peace Corps days by working as a Congo nurse. I bet she is kicking herself for leaving home, especially at her age. After all, who in their right mind would give up their Mac computer and iPhone.


It’s official. I’m having my midlife crisis. I knew I had hit crisis mode the day one of my patients tried eloping from the unit. I saw the patient racing down the hallway towards the door, and my brain said, “Run, catch the patient,” and, after a few strides, my joints started screaming, “Brain, we hurt. Go to hell.” Fortunately, the techs and a few nurses, all of whom are youngsters, ran right pass me like little gazelles and effortlessly caught the patient before he bolted off the unit. I felt like a relic. I wanted to cry all day long.

debchair3If anyone over the age of 55 tells you that they aren’t going through their midlife crisis, they are in denial, or they are lying through their teeth. I started making some changes at home after that fateful day at work. I can’t afford a facelift, a tummy tuck, or a red sports car, so I started redecorating my living room, a la Peter Max. I said goodbye to my Martha Stewart country living room by replacing everything that was made from gingham and lace with burgundy silk pillows, hand blown glass bottles, and Bakhtiari carpets. I even scored this 1960s leather chair, matching footstool, and hoop lamp from one of my best friends. Yeah, they’re groovy. I can’t wait for my husband to finish off my bookshelves. Maybe I’ll start a new hookah collection when he’s done.

Having a midlife crisis isn’t just about getting gray hair, saggy boobs, and a wider girth. It’s about getting to know who you really are as you hit the midpoint of your life. This midlife journey is especially bewildering and fear provoking for nurses. Everyone is in a big hurry to get an advanced nursing degree before “it’s too late.” Too late for what? I see nurses frantically checking out school websites, and exchanging information about online classes. Some nurses want to expand their knowledge base so they won’t have to work as bedside nurses anymore, while others want to go back to school because of a mandate put out by the ANA. The ANA doesn’t recognize anyone without a nursing degree as a professional nurse. The ANA can kiss my ass. I’m not going back to school, and I refuse to burst one brain cell over a class assignment that has no relevance in my life.

beatlesstereo2God willing, I have at least twenty-five years before I check out of the world and I plan to have some fun before I head for the Pearly Gates. My short-term goal is to buy the new Beatles Boxed set in stereo and to finish redecorating my house. I’m going to light up some incense, play my tunes, and party on. My long-term goal is to make love, not war, get on the peace train, and to follow the sun.

Can you dig it?

*This blog post was originally published at Nurse Ratched's Place*

Latest Interviews

Caring For Winter Olympians In Sochi: An Interview With Team USA’s Chief Medical Officer Dr. Gloria Beim

I am a huge fan of the winter Olympics partly because I grew up in Canada where most kids can ski and skate before they can run and partly because I used to participate in Downhill ski racing. Now that I m a rehab physician with a reconstructed knee I…

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How Do Hospital Executives Feel About Locum Tenens Agencies And Traveling Physicians?

I recently wrote about my experiences as a traveling physician and how to navigate locum tenens work. Today I want to talk about the client in this case hospital side of the equation. I ve had the chance to speak with several executives some were physicians themselves about the overall…

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Latest Book Reviews

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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Unaccountable: A Book About The Underbelly Of Hospital Care

I met Dr. Marty Makary over lunch at Founding Farmers restaurant in DC about three years ago. We had an animated conversation about hospital safety the potential contribution of checklists to reducing medical errors and his upcoming book about the need for more transparency in the healthcare system. Marty was…

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