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Skeptical Scalpel

Complications & Collateral Damage

“Collateral damage: the effect of patient complications on the surgeon’s psyche” was a brief but interesting paper that probably went unnoticed by many. Using the results of a survey completed by only 123 of...

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Words Mean What I Say They Mean

Apparently a few years ago someone decreed that “non-compliant” was no longer a politically correct term to describe patients who did not take their medicines or follow instructions. The newspeak to use is now “non-adherent.”...

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An Error Occurred. Suspend All Surgery in the U.S.?

Here is an extreme “system error” type of response to an event that seems to have been a human error. According to CBS News: “Mowing at all national parks has been suspended indefinitely because of safety concerns after a...

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What Happens When a Doctor Is Paged

It’s 8:15 p.m. I am at home. My beeper goes off, and I check it instantly. It reads, “555-1212” [Number changed to comply with HIPAA regulations]. It’s the inpatient surgical floor. Within 10 seconds, I have dialed the number....

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Are You Afraid to Be Wrong?

Richard Smith, a former editor of the British Medical Journal, wrote a thoughtful essay offering guidance for new medical students. (Full text here.) Although it was published in 2003, someone just brought it to my attention via...

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