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Good hands

We know a tight end can catch a football.   How do you know a surgeon has similar hand-eye coordination?  Shouldn’t this quality be possessed by all surgeons?   Acceptance into surgical programs is based on grades and test scores.  But where and when in medical school and surgery residency are doctors screened for their dexterity and nimbleness?  Can these …

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Doctor Bonus

Primary Care Physicians are internists, family practitioners, and pediatricians who are frontline doctors encountered by patients seeking medical care.   Some physicians are in private practice, while others are employed by medical business organizations like HMOs.  These latter doctors are known as “gatekeepers” and not only provide basic care, but regulate access to more costly specialists, procedures, hospitalization, and blood …

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Improving Nursing Home Care

None of my seniors want to go to a nursing home.  Being surrounded by screaming patients, the odor of incontinence, and the loss of dignity and independence make them cringe.     Primary care physicians (PCP) are reimbursed once-a-month for a visit, so the scope of medical care is minimal.    My suggestion:  Develop public-private partnerships to fund for one …

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Cost of Drugs

Pharmaceutical companies have a stranglehold on us.  Medicare Part D was written by their lobbyists.  Drugs developed decades ago have gone up 10 fold without new research or development.  Potential treatment of ALS (amyotrophic lateral sclerosis – Lou Gehrig’s Disease) will cost $146,000 per year.   The price of drugs contributes significantly to the overall rising cost of American healthcare.  …

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Hospital Administrators on a Pedestal

Last month, a hospital administrator retired and all local media outlets had press-release headlines lauding his accomplishments.     Two years ago, our hospital celebrated it’s 40th anniversary, but none of the 10 founding physicians still on medical staff were honored.  Four years ago, the hospital refused to recognize 15 physician and nursing staff veterans when the Traveling Vietnam Wall …

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Denied

You’ve been told surgery required to repair a herniated disc has been denied;  a mammogram to evaluate a new lump won’t be allowed; or you must be discharged from the hospital because an insurance company doctor you have never met will not approve further hospitalization.   As my patient’s advocate, I frequently must discuss their care with insurance doctors in …

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Courage, Character, Responsibility

Sometimes my surgical colleagues impress me with not just their skills, but the quality and spirit of their character.   A neurosurgeon gets up in the middle of the night to operate 6 hours on a patient with head trauma and gets payed nothing from the insurance company.  Two cardiothoracic doctors spend 12 hours saving the life of an emergently …

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Congress doesn’t go on Medicare

With all the recent headline hubbub concerning creation of a new healthcare law, the public must realize Congresspeople don’t go on Medicare at the age of 65.  They have their own health plan with premiums and deductibles subsidized by the American people, and they choose their doctors and don’t fear denial from pre-existing conditions.     Despite all their rhetoric …

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Paperwork

Doctors and their staff are inundated with paperwork…and it is getting worse.  Despite computerization, the volume is overwhelming, and the data collected is mostly used to substantiate insurance payment and has many times nothing to do with the care of the patient.   This week I had to “pre-authorize” test strips for a diabetic through Medicare Part D.  Why?  I …

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Comfort Care – Know the difference

Your loved one is seizing and brought to the Emergency Room.  The staff offers “comfort care” and of course who wouldn’t want their loved one to be comfortable.  But in a hospital setting, “comfort care” has a different meaning than the intuitive thought of pure comfort.  It is end-of-life care.   Healthcare jargon can easily be misinterpreted, hence patients and …