This is what patient safety means to me

What does patient safety mean to you? I believe patients get the safest care when The patient is known as an individual. The health care team gives the patient their undivided attention. The team is well-supported with efficient workflows and organized, easily accessible information. The health professionals find joy in their work. By being “known” I mean, that the nurses […]

Are 3-D printing and the gamification of medicine good for patients?

3-D printing has been documented as an innovation that’s being rapidly deployed in the medical field.  Doctors and researchers have been creating intrinsically realistic models of organs, bones, appendages and sometimes, implanting them into patients.  In 2012, University of Michigan doctors implanted a splint to hold open a 3-month-old child’s airway tube.  They published their […]

It’s March 30th. Have you hugged your doctor?

I’m in a room full of doctors at my mom’s 50th medical school reunion when I announce, “It’s almost March 30th!” I pause. “Doesn’t anyone know what March 30th is?” Nobody has a clue. March 30th is National Doctors’ Day! Who knew? I never heard of it — until a friend told me last week. […]

Paul Kalanithi: A neurosurgeon leaves his mark on our hearts

At age 37, after a nearly 2-year battle with stage IV lung cancer, a talented neurosurgeon lost his battle. My oncology-related newsfeed is filled with stories this week about this brave and clever man’s recent passing. In a field where the recent tweets tout results of the latest clinical trials (overall survival prolonged from 2 […]

Do not talk or chew for 10 days

The other day some cardiologists on Twitter were discussing whether a patient should be blamed if a permanent pacemaker lead became displaced. The consensus seemed to be that it was probably poor placement (i.e., operator error), rather than patient behavior that caused leads to dislodge. Continue reading … Your patients are rating you online: How […]

Where does the doctor stop and computer begin? 

Where does doctor stop and computer begin? Who is in charge? Do we care? Are these silly, academic questions from some sci-fi future or is it an onrushing tomorrow? Consider: Ten years ago, the EMR recorded the date you or your nurse gave Sam his flu shot. Today, the EMR reminds you it is time to have your nurse […]

Digital natives: Implications on physician evaluation

I recently had an interesting conversation with several co-residents about how our health care system should evaluate physician performance. If nothing else, the discussion highlighted how challenging this issue has been for almost all medical specialties, including internal medicine, where the controversy has been punctuated by debates about maintenance of certification (MOC) and licensure. It […]

The obsession with numbers in medicine: It’s time to stop

Medicine is obsessed with numbers.  Or rather, journalists and medical administrators are.  Here are two related examples of how large a grain of salt one must put on numbers. Cardiac surgical procedures, like everything else in medicine, have quality indicators.  One of these is what we doctors call “30-day mortality.”  What this term means is […]

The last breath can be seen as a the passage into eternity

Eonia I Mnimi (Eternal Memory)  – Greek Orthodox Funeral Blessing “Have you ever seen anyone die before?” my cousin asked me, from across the bed. “Sure I have, plenty of times,” I answered. We were flanking her father, my uncle (really, my mother’s cousin, but extended Greek families are complicated; suffice it to say that our […]

3 myths and 3 truths about hospice

As I travel around speaking about preparing for peace at the end of life, I have found that there are three pervasive myths about hospice that might cause you to inadvertently rob yourself or your family of a peace-filled end-of-life experience. So, I am taking on the job of myth-buster to clear the air. Here […]

Surprise! When it comes to a vaginal hysterectomy, this insurance company gets it right.

The preferred route for a hysterectomy is vaginal. This means the entire surgery is done through the vagina with no incisions in the abdomen of any kind. The joke among surgeons is that it is a bit like taking a car apart through the muffler. While doing surgery entirely through the vagina may sound highly […]

Will cuts to Medicare Advantage reduce quality?

The feds are at it again. Medicare is in the cross hairs with an anticipated 0.9 percent cut to Medicare Advantage plan payments in 2016. The final decision is to be made on April 6 of this year. Medicare Advantage plans are an alternative to traditional Medicare. Traditional Medicare consists of Part A (hospital) and […]

Don’t forget to seek out the beauty in your life

One of the cornerstones of the practice of medicine is finding imperfection in things. When the doctor encounters the patient, the latter expects the former to find out what is “wrong.” In fact, I often see a patient and find nothing wrong, and when I voice this out loud the parents often ask, “Are you […]

Real-life examples of ultrasound in the developing world

In the last year and a half, I’ve been able to go to Africa 4 times and Haiti once, for which I give thanks that the world still produces abundant fossil fuels. That much airplane travel does make me feel a bit guilty, even though I’m not actually vacationing. Going to far away places to […]

How Medicaid’s bait and switch fooled doctors

Medicaid expansion “is one of the biggest milestones in health care reform,” according to the Obamacare Facts website. The goal was to provide insurance coverage to low-income Americans, specifically the uninsured. The major problem with Medicaid is low reimbursement. “Due to low payouts, many doctors don’t take Medicaid, and the quality of care tends to be poor,” […]