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Showing posts from November, 2012

Accutane Users Win Huge Verdict Against Roche. Who's the Winner?

I was engaged in one of my pleasures, sitting in a coffee shop leafing through medical journals. Usually, I am perusing newspapers. I spend many hours each week combing through various newspapers and routinely forward items of interest to folks of interest. No newspapers today. I have a few gastroenterology journals to look through. My professional reading habits have evolved over my career. I am more interested in reading about medical ethics, health care policy and the art of medicine than in studying hard science or clinical research, which used to be my required reading years ago. I read an essay entitled, Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) Patients’ Willingness to Take Risks with Medications published in the June 2012 issue of the American Journal of Gastroenterology. The article stated that IBS patients would accept a small chance of death if there were an overwhelming likelihood of cure. This caught my attention. Of course, IBS can be a debilitating illness. But, it is not cance

Romney is a Loser - Is This a Fair and Balanced Judgment?

Romney lost.  This update is for those who have just awakened from a deep coma.  I voted for him which will not surprise even the occasional reader of this blog.  While he was an imperfect candidate, I believe that a businessman whose successes have straddled the public and private worlds may have provided a pathway forward out of the abyss.  Sure, I recognize that campaigning is quite different from governing.  Had Romney prevailed then he would have been opposed by an obstructionist Senate that would have stiff-armed him in the way that I expect the House to do to the president.   The loser always faces a merciless post mortem where pundits and pontificators point out the series of fatal errors that the candidate committed.  “He dissed the Latinos.” “He didn’t reach out to women.” “He tacked too far to the right in order to gain the nomination.” “He made a $10,000 bet with Rick ‘Brain-Freeze’ Perry on national TV.” “He introduced us to the concept of ‘self-deportati

Electronic Medical Records Holds Doctors Hostage

Which of the following events is most traumatic for a practicing physician? Your staff doesn’t show up because the roads are flooded, but the waiting room is full of patients. Medicare notifies you that coding discrepancies will result in an audit of 2 years of Medicare records. You receive an offer of employment by a corporate medical institution who will bury your practice if you do not sign. Your key expert witness defending you in your upcoming medical malpractice case is incarcerated. Your office electronic medical records (EMR) system suffers a cardiac arrest. Tough choices, I know. Our office lost complete access to EMR for 3 days, and it wasn’t pretty. I don’t grasp the technical (doubletalk) explanation for the temporary EMR coma, but we were reminded of how dependent we are on technology. Our IT gurus were working tirelessly, but their adversary was wily and formidable. Finally, they prevailed, but I wouldn’t regard this as a clean win for us. We were hobbling for 3 d

Does Doctor to Doctor Communication Protect Patients?

One of the gripes that patients have about the medical profession is that we physicians don’t communicate sufficiently about our patients. In my view, this criticism is spot on. Patients we see in the office often have several physicians participating in their care. The level of communication among us is variable. While electronic medical records (EMR) has the potential to facilitate communication between physicians’ offices and hospitals, the promise has not yet been realized. The physicians in our community, for example, all have different EMR systems which simply can’t talk to each other. We can access hospital data banks from our office, but this is cumbersome and burns up time. Ideally, there should be a universal system, an Esperanto approach where all of us utilize the same EMR language. On the day I wrote this post, I participated in a direct conversation with the treating physician at the hospital bedside which vexed me. This scenario would seem to be ideal from the patien