Although the room was dark, the moon streaming through the windows cast uneasy half-shadows on the carpet. The only sound was the rhythmic ticking of a mantel clock. As I peered in into the gloom I was startled by a thin woman, wrapped in lace, standing across from me.
Craig R. Hildreth, MD
I am seriously thinking about firing my oncology software. It has been 19 months now since I found myself stuck with this relapse. I don’t dare tell my father anything yet—he’ll start going on about how I should see a human doctor. He has been pushing me to visit a LiveDoc who supposedly is still practicing oncology in midtown. Right—like I’m going to do that.
Today, after reviewing a CT scan (and screwing my courage to the sticking-place) I went into an exam room, looked a patient in the eye and said: “The liver lesions have started to grow again. I think we need to change your treatment.”
Here’s a fun fact: most doctors will be sued at least once during their career. Physicians in high-risk specialties such a surgery have a 99% chance of being sued by age 65; even low-risk specialists have a 75% probability.
To my oncologist: You certainly were pleasant and compassionate. You also tended to minimize the gravity of the situation when my disease progressed. I know you’re not psychic, but when things are going badly, don’t be afraid to tell me you’re worried.
I see these tragedies unfold so often it has become routine for me now, yet don’t think that your life was less precious, that your death is less grievous, just because you killed yourself with cigarettes. It is not too late to change your future—listen to me!
The reality is that new biological agents are often priced like a Ferrari, and patients who are covered under a pharmacy benefit are required to fork over not a fixed copay but a percentage of the pill’s cost, each and every month ‘til eternity or death, whichever comes first.
Much study has been done on how to promote the most important attribute physicians must have in order to fulfill their sworn duty: that of professionalism. For practicing physicians such frustrations as the insurance bureaucracy and the pressure to generate visits can erode that duty.
As I walked into my office last Monday I found my nurses giving me a peculiar look, one that I usually reserve for incidents like watching someone back into another’s car. The explanation for their solicitude was soon revealed by a stack of charts lying on my desk. During my weekend off, seven of our patients died.
It has been a year since Congress passed the Affordable Food Act, which mandates that all Americans have adequate insurance for the purchase of groceries. Needless to say private industry, always willing to fill a new need, has answered the call.