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Showing posts from September, 2023

Drug and Medication Side Effects May Stump Physician Detectives!

One of the conundrums in medical practice is to determine if a medication is causing a side effect.  Sometimes, this issue is very straightforward.  A new medicine is prescribed.  Three days later, the patient develops a new symptom of constipation.  The medicine is stopped and the bowel pattern normalizes.  Most of us would agree that the evidence that the medicine was responsible for the bowel change is beyond a reasonable doubt. The above is a textbook example of a side effect, but alas, patients often have not read the textbook.   Consider a patient having diarrhea from colitis.   The gastroenterologist prescribes an appropriate medication.   Two weeks later, the patient contacts the doctor to report that his diarrhea has worsened.   Although diarrhea is among the long list of potential side effects of the medicine, might the increased diarrhea simply be from his underlying colitis? It's 'alimentary', my dear Watson! I have seen many examples of patients who come to

Measuring Colonoscopy Quality: Who Should Do My Procedure?

I have penned a few posts recently illustrating the difficulties in measuring medical quality.  Indeed there's a category on this blog entitled, Medical Quality, ready for your perusal. How do we measure something that is very difficult to measure?   Why is a painting hanging in a museum considered to be a masterpiece while others – which appear quite similar to most of us – are relegated to a much lower status?    And art experts may not agree on these designations! I have already performed approaching 50,000 colonoscopies in my career, and my colonoscopy counter notches more of these each week.   This is my gift to humanity.   Quite often, I am stopped in a store or on the street by a grateful recipient of one of my probing endeavors.   Clearly, patients regard the event as a bonding experience. Found this in a garage sale.  Worth anything? But how do they or anyone know if I am any good?   How do you assess the quality of a proceduralist? It sounds easy enough, except that

Measuring Medical Quality - What Really Counts

I have written how challenging it is for ordinary folks, let alone medical professionals, to assess the quality and competence of physicians. There are no easily measurable and reliable parameters.  Industries have emerged that specialize in assessing the competencies of practitioners and organizations in fields beyond medicine.  It is typical for those who are targeted for assessment to howl in protest claiming that the testing methods are irreparably flawed and should be abandoned.  Sometimes, these folks have a point. But other times, they are simply trying to avoid accountability. And just because an evaluation process hasn’t been perfected, doesn’t mean it offers no value.  For example, teachers have recoiled against using student test scores as an element in assessing their pedagogical skills.  I think that both the teachers and the testers have legitimate arguments. Professionals and tradesmen and their leadership advocates will reject processes that will disparage their members

Labor Day 2023

The nation celebrates Labor Day on the morrow.  This holiday was created in the later part of the nineteenth century in response to immoral and abusive conditions for workers.  In that era, 12 hours shifts, 7 day workweeks and child labor were all routine.  Organized labor expanded over the ensuing decades leading to legislative and societal guardrails protecting workers from abuse and exploitation. Despite continued reforms of the workplace and fairer treatment of workers, tensions remain between management and labor.  At this very moment, the United Auto Workers has overwhelming authorized a strike in the event that union leaders decide that this is necessary. A typical Labor Day scene While this holiday has deep roots in organized labor, keep in mind that most American workers are non-union, and their work should be honored as well. Regrettably, but understandably, the true meaning of Labor Day and many other federal holidays is not top of mind for most Americans.  These commemorati