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 […]

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 […]

A letter to patients and caregivers — Improving US healthcare is a team sport

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The thing about US healthcare that bothers me most is the waste: the nuclear stress tests on demented patients in diapers, the MRIs for every case of back and knee pain, the egregious pre-op tests for low-risk surgeries, the mega-workups for simple cases of AF, the disease mongering in the name of prevention, and most […]

Five lessons from the Niacin failure

This week the New England Journal of Medicine published two studies on the role of niacin in preventing future cardiac events. The short story is that niacin was ineffective and associated with significant harm. A number of excellent summary pieces have been written, and I will reference them at the end. The purpose of writing […]

How do doctors feel about the new ABIM board certification requirements?

I received an interesting email this week from the American College of Cardiology. The purpose of the note was to relay the results of a survey regarding member’s views and concerns of the new changes in board certification. Before I tell you about the survey’s striking results and clear message, it’s worth reviewing the contentious […]

US healthcare, wait times and the truth…

It’s time for another post on truth and healthcare. (This almost sounds like a good series.) I’ve recently written that the VA healthcare system represents the truth—and that Americans should get over the Pollyanna view that triage, wait lists, and taking care of increasing numbers of increasingly sick patients can be managed with magic. The […]

Another VA lesson — Healthcare needs to stop being like flying business class

The VA healthcare story has me thinking about the good aspects of delays in medical therapy. Typical American intuitive thinking holds that healthcare waiting lists are a bad thing. The two central tenets of this mindset are that healthcare brings health, and most of medicine is as time sensitive as cardiac arrest or heart attack. […]

The VA healthcare system — Can we handle the truth?

Memorial Day weekend is an apt time to consider the recent accusations of wrongdoing in the VA healthcare system. It’s an opportunity to face the truth. As a free American, I am connected to veterans. It has always been remarkable that young people give their life or health for their country, but now, in this […]

Struggling with the (relative) value of humanistic medical care –

I just arrived in San Francisco. I am here for the 2014 Heart Rhythm Society sessions. The meeting begins today. A poster session this evening is overflowing with notable studies. Stay tuned. I’ll be working hard for theheart.org to bring you the best stories. First, though, here’s a little appetizer. On the eve of the […]