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Latest Posts

Who Will Pay For Healthcare?

A couple of recent news stories reminded me of the dirty little secret about healthcare that no one wants to talk about, the proverbial elephant in the room. All those pills, surgeries, x-rays, medical care? It costs money!

Yes, Virginia, quality medical is not a right, not guaranteed in the Constitution, not something good-hearted corporations and companies, whether for-profit or not, are obliged to hand out like candy corn at Halloween. It costs money. Billions of dollars a day.

This appears to be something we all forgot in the warm fuzzy moments of watching military transport planes fly critically ill people out of Haiti to Florida hospitals. Who was going to pay for all this medical care? For the months of hospitalizations and rehabilitation these people were going to require? When the state of Florida, rightly so, asked the same question, prompting the halting of those military convoys, it ended up on the receiving end of a world-wide outpouring of boos and hisses. Read more »

*This blog post was originally published at Debra Gordon's Musings on Medicine and Health Care*

When Cancer Patients Opt For Quackery Over Clinical Trials

So my cousin emailed me the other night. She had a breast cancer recurrence about 6 years ago. Before you feel too sorry for her, however, know this: She’s doing great, moving from one targeted treatment/chemotherapy/laser knife procedure to another. Her doctors are fabulous. Her attitude is amazing. And, as she constantly tells us, she feels great and is loving life. No, this isn’t about her. It’s about her friend, the one she emailed me about.

Her friend was diagnosed with an early stage of an aggressive form of non-small cell lung cancer a year ago. After chemotherapy, a CT scan this summer showed her lungs clear of cancer; but a followup CT scan last week showed some spots. This woman had participated in a clinical trial during her first round of treatment and her doctor wanted her to join another clinical trial. But my cousin’s friend is freaked out; she doesn’t want to feel like a “guinea pig.” So when her daughter suggested she see a doctor who specializes in an unproven and experimental therapy called insulin potentiation therapy, she was ready to call for an appointment. Read more »

*This blog post was originally published at Debra Gordon's Musings on Medicine and Health Care*

Why Is It Taboo For Doctors To Discuss Death With Patients?

Back in the day when I was a newspaper reporter I completed a biomedical ethics fellowship at the University of Virginia Medical Center in Charlottesville, VA. In addition to sitting in on the hospital’s bioethics committee discussions, I spent much of the week shadowing a nurse in the ICU.

They called her the Death Nurse because her job was to intervene with doctors, nurses, patients and families when the time came for a patient to move from the ICU to hospice. While her title was Supportive Care, she flat out told her me her job was to help people die; not actively, but from behind the scenes by helping patients and those caring for them understand when the time had come to move from curative care to supportive care (email me if you’d like a copy of the article I wrote about her). Read more »

*This blog post was originally published at Debra Gordon on Medical Writing (and other medical topics of interest)*

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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