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Latest Posts

Surviving Aortic Dissection: A Second Chance At Life

Heart patient Ed Dunifin and his wife of 35 years, Karen.

I had not been to Indiana for 42 years. But last week I found myself on a commuter train in Michigan City, Indiana, taking my family on the South Shore Line to Chicago for the day. We were vacationing not far away on the shores of Lake Michigan.

The train was crowded so my group of six spread out where there were vacant seats. I found myself sitting with two men, father and grown son, on the way to a day at Wrigley Field and a Chicago Cubs baseball game. Before long the chit-chat turned to my work, and my explanation of Patient Power sparked the telling of an incredible medical story from the older of the two men, a story of good luck and great medical care that has given him a second life. Read more »

*This blog post was originally published at Andrew's Blog*

Chest Pain: It’s Hard To Figure Out Which Patients Have Dangerous Pathology

Seems like I’ve been on a real run of chest pain patients lately.  Which is fine — it’s part of the gig.  I did have a very interesting pair the other night.  They were seen in sequence, right next to one another, in room 7 and room 8.  They were both totally healthy women in their mid-fifties.  And they were both over-the-edge, crazy, crawling-out-of-the-gurney anxious.

Anxiety is an awful red herring in the work-up of chest pain.  People who are having an anxiety attack often if not always manifest some chest pain (pressure, tightness, whatever) as a prominent symptom of their anxiety.  On the other hand, someone having a heart attack who is experiencing chest pain will also be anxious — and for good reason! Read more »

*This blog post was originally published at Movin' Meat*

Much Ado About George: My Father In Law’s Trip To The ER

georgezMy father in law is 83 years old. He has high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and occasional “senior moments.” He rarely complains about anything, and spends most of his time doing household chores, playing with grand kids, and watching TV. So it was with some degree of concern that I raised my head from my morning cereal when George announced at the breakfast table that he was having chest pain.

I looked at him with narrowed, clinical eyes and began asking the usual rule out MI type questions – did it feel like pressure? Where was the pain exactly? When did it start? Does anything make it better or worse? Does it radiate down your arm or up your jaw? Have you ever had this pain before? How severe is it on a scale of 1-10? Read more »

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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