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Showing posts from February, 2012

Honesty in Medicine: Do Doctors Tell the Truth?

Did Washington Chop Down the Cherry Tree? Courtesy of National Archives …resolve to be honest at all events; and if in your own judgment you cannot be an honest lawyer, resolve to be honest without being a lawyer. No need to identify the authorship of the above quotation, which should be known by all discerning readers, such as those who feast on the weekly Whistleblower offering. For those who have suffered a cognitive lapse, I will provide 4 identity clues. Take a guess after each clue. If after the 4th clue, you are still clueless, then politely request a 5th and 6th clue in the comments section, and they will be provided to you. (1) He had a high pitched voice. (2) He was prone to depression and melancholy. (3) He was an ambitious and successful attorney. (4) He was known as ‘the rail-splitter’. Honesty in medicine is a fundamental pillar of our profession. However, physicians and scientific investigators have the same moral failings as the rest of our species. While

Voting for Gridlock in Washington: First, Do No Harm

Inauguration Day Presidential election seasons are always exciting times for Americans. Read the newspaper any day for a reminder of how much we take for granted here. Every four years we have the opportunity to hire, rehire and fire a commander-in-chief. Of course, our system is not perfect, and is often downright maddening. But, most of us would not trade our system for another. The presidential election year is especially exciting when you can share it with your kids. I cannot calculate or even recall how many dinnertime discussions we had where all of us would debate the issues and evaluate the candidates. It was great fun to watch the kids engage in the electoral process. While I lean toward the political right, I tried to be a fair (and balanced) moderator during these dinnertime debates. My prediction is that 3 of the 5 will be Democrats, 1 will be a Republican (but doesn’t know it yet) and the 5th kid could go either way. As we know, one’s political affiliations tend to ch

Obama And Health Care Reform: Leading or Misleading?

Leadership is convincing folks to follow a new and uncomfortable path. Folks have to believe that the new direction will ultimately serve their interests, even if it feels awkward and unsettling at first. This works when there exists a foundation of trust between leader and followers. Otherwise, there will be doubt as to the motives of the leader who will be suspected of serving his own parochial interests, and not the greater good.  Consider some examples. If your boss has always been stingy, it may be difficult for him to convince workers that the 'new and improved' health care plan is better for their families. If a presidential candidate receives $400 haircuts, can he convince the hoi polloi that he understands the common man and his travails? If a religious leader is discovered siphoning donations into his private accounts, will folks still call the ‘prayer line’ to offer a tithe? When trust in the leader is squandered, distrust lingers and will frustrate and impede f

When Should a Doctor Fire a Patient?

His signature is, 'Your're Fired!'. Photo by Gage Skidmore Rarely, I have fired patients from my practice. Why do I do this? You might think that we send out termination letters to patients who haven’t paid their medical bills. We don’t. We try to work with these folks and will keep seeing them as long as they are making the barest effort to address their financial responsibilities. If they refuse to make any payment, or won’t return our billing office’s phone calls, or are hostile to our staff. then we may withdraw as their physician, provided there is no medical urgency present. Our office will see patients who have no medical insurance so that these folks have access to medical care. The process of terminating a professional relationship between physicians and patients is well presented in EverythingHealth , one of my ‘must read’ medical blogs. The more typical reason why we fire patients from the practice is because of continued behaviors and actions which place t