Health insurers and physicians are not partners

On the face of it, this seems like a fairly simple business arrangement. My patients or their employers pay money to a health insurance corporation so they, in turn, have sufficient funds available to pay medical claims for services I render. That simp…

When Medicare stops covering a test without warning

There are two versions of “the conversation” we have with men: One is for teenage boys, and it is about wet dreams, sexually transmitted disease, unwanted pregnancy and at one point also about testicular self-examinations. Those have now been edited ou…

Convincing patients to stop cancer screening isn’t always easy

During my training to become a primary care physician, the importance of preventive cancer screening was ingrained in me. The idea of catching cancer at an early stage so we can better treat it made intuitive sense. But as I’ve learned over the years, …

What is low-value care, and why does it matter?

Doctors and policy wonks hear a lot these days about “low-value care.” What exactly is that, and should you care? The term refers to tests, medications, and procedures that add little to a patient’s health or well-being but which cost them or the syste…

Work getting you down? What you watch on TV might be making it worse.

As a trauma surgeon, it’s my job to diagnose and fix the violent destruction of the human body. One of the questions I get asked very frequently is, “How do you deal with that?” My standard answer is, “After a while, you get used to it.” And while I re…

Asking patients the right questions isn’t as easy as you think

I made my 10:20 a.m. patient wait while I told my support staff about my day off. “I was getting an ice cream when I saw a car accident. By the time I got there, it was clear that there were no serious injuries and all I did was to distract the p…

4 reasons why this radiologist loves practicing teleradiology

Some radiologists perceive teleradiology as the “dark side” of our profession. I may have counted myself among those skeptics, but I now see the light and am happy to share a place among the converts. Most of my career has been in traditional private p…

How coding is like Scrabble

One of the great nuisances in medicine is diagnosis coding. According to Medicare and insurance companies across the U.S., each and every disease must have a unique number. Everything must be quantified and recorded. Why? To facilitate analysis, number…

10 reasons why doctors get sued

The one thing doctors want to avoid like the plague is a lawsuit — a medical malpractice lawsuit. To be sued means the doctor loses precious time from work, endures emotional personal and family distress and is unable to fully invest oneself in providi…

4 actionable tips for new medical interns

People often compare internship to drinking from a fire hose. Overwhelmed by new information and workflow, interns (especially international) usually do not have a clear direction about how to optimize their working/learning experience. Here are some t…

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