Medical decisions — tradeoffs, emotions, preferences and experts

Maybe you wonder why I, a cardiologist, writes about vaccines and mammography. It is because I have grown intensely interested in the medical decision. As a doctor in a preference-sensitive field, electrophysiology, how do I help patients understand and choose the best path–of which there are many. This seems like a simple task, but with […]

Transforming the human heart with the best medicine

This is a short intro to my latest column over at Trials and Fibrillations on theHeart.org Medscape|Cardiology. —- I am not sure why doctors so often look past the best medicine. It’s right there before our eyes. Yet somehow we get sidetracked by the culture of pills and procedures. Modern-day caregivers fail to master the […]

Does the controversy over statin drugs herald a new era of doctoring?

In July, I wrote a short blog post expressing doubt about the value of statin drugs. Medscape republished it on their website and it went viral–in a medical sort of way. The post has 631 comments. It was Tweeted extensively, page views have been off the charts (for me), and I even received an invitation […]

To deprescribe…Adding a new verb to the language of doctoring

Screen Shot 2014-10-14 at 5.54.25 AM

What follows is my most recent editorial in the Journal of the Kentucky Medical Association. It is reposted with permission. **** One day every month, my wife Staci, a hospice and palliative care physician, goes to see an elderly woman in the nursing home. The routine has gone on for years, which is surprising because […]

Writing about lifestyle modification — and blaming the patient

I was pleased when the editors of the TheHeart.org reposted my recent essay, Let’s Stop the Unnecessary Treatment of Heart Disease. As of this morning, there are 167 comments. The majority of them were positive, and supportive of lifestyle promotion. Negative comments represented a small minority, but were notable in their vigor, and occasionally reached […]

Missing the first US Ebola case – A learning opportunity in patient safety and caregiver distraction

It was a mistake to send the Liberian national Thomas Eric Duncan home from a Dallas emergency room after he presented with fever and pain, which were early signs of Ebola infection. It would be a larger mistake to miss an important learning opportunity. This case demonstrates what I believe to be a major threat […]

Let’s stop the unnecessary treatment of heart disease

There are many reasons doctors suffer from burnout and compassion fatigue. One of the least-mentioned of these reasons is that much of what we do is so damn unnecessary. In the US, the land of excess everything, caregivers, especially cardiologists, spend most of our time treating human beings that didn’t need to have disease. Let’s […]

Vaccine anxiety… A teachable moment for doctors?

I’ve read and re-read Dr. Paul Offit’s WSJ opinion piece, The Anti-Vaccination Epidemic. Dr. Offit is a professor of Pediatrics at a leading hospital in the United States. He is also an author, a scientist, and a vaccine-developer. In short, he is a major physician leader. I’ll come back to that point in just a […]

New post up on theHeart.org — Dr Emanuel’s Death Wish Harms Rather Than Helps

You know the story on US healthcare and the elderly: Our current default is an American tragedy. It’s devoid of truth and candor; it’s inhumane and it’s wasteful. Recent gains in longevity have come by extending the period of disability right before death. Aggressive care treatment is often hoisted onto the frail because caregivers lack […]

Guest post — 10 observations from a 49 year-old falls risk.

74249_1536099173757_5214661_n

It finally happened. After years of sitting at John’s bedside through multiple serious bike crashes, I had one of my own. I’ve had plenty of time to build up a ridiculous amount of smugness about why he crashes and I don’t. “John is reckless; Staci is cautious. John rides like an airplane engine on a […]

Death-denial is something doctors can change

I’m not sure why so many doctors don’t get it. Death, that is. Where in medical school, or residency, or even in non-medical life, did this many smart people get the idea that death is optional? Theresa Brown is an oncology nurse and a writer. This weekend, her regular column in the New York Times […]