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Patient Safety’s First Scandal: The Sad Case of Chuck Denham, CareFusion, and the NQF

In retrospect – always in retrospect – it should have been obvious that, when it came to Dr. Charles Denham, something was not quite right. In a remarkable number of cases of medical errors, it’s clear – again, in retrospect – that there were signs that something was amiss, but they were ignored. The reasons […]

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Lights, Camera, Action… In Healthcare

About eight years ago I was desperate to improve my golf game. I just couldn’t straighten out my drives or hit my irons crisply. (Yes, I’m fully aware that this is a First World problem). I decided to try golf camp in Palm Springs for a few days. My sensei, a crusty ex-touring pro named […]

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Reflections On My Year as Chair of the American Board of Internal Medicine

Today is my last day as chair of the ABIM, and the end of my eight-year tenure on the Board. In this blog – a bookend to the one I wrote at the start of the year, which went near-viral – I’ll describe some of our accomplishments this year and a few of the challenges […]

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Measuring the Quality of Doctors and Hospitals: When Is Good Enough, Good Enough?

In the past, neither hospitals nor practicing physicians were accustomed to being measured and judged. Aside from periodic inspections by the Joint Commission (for which they had years of notice and on which failures were rare), hospitals did not publicly report their quality data, and payment was based on volume, not performance. Physicians endured an […]

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Doctors, Tend to Your Online Reputations. KevinMD’s Terrific New Book Tells How

Kevin Pho, better known as KevinMD, is the nation’s leading physician-social media guru. He and his colleague Susan Gay were nice enough to invite me to write the foreword to their book, “Establishing, Managing, and Protecting Your Online Reputation: A Social Media Guide for Physicians and Medical Practices,” which was published today. I think it’s […]

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Pay for Performance in Healthcare: Do We Need Less, More, or Different?

The debate over pay for performance in healthcare gets progressively more interesting, and confusing. And, with Medicare’s recent launch of its value-based purchasing and readmission penalty programs, the debate is no longer theoretical. Just in the past several months, we’ve seen studies showing that pay for performance works, and others showing that it doesn’t. We’ve […]

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“Unaccountable”: An Important, Courageous, and Deeply Flawed Book

In his new book, Unaccountable: What Hospitals Won’t Tell You and How Transparency Can Revolutionize Health Care, Johns Hopkins surgeon Marty Makary promises a “powerful, no-nonsense, nonpartisan prescription for reforming our broken health care system.” And he partly delivers, with an insider’s and relatively unvarnished view of many of the flaws in modern hospitals. Underlying […]

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On Becoming Chair of the ABIM: Why the Board Matters More Than Ever

On September 10, 1986, soon after I completed my residency in internal medicine, I “took the Boards” – the certifying examination administered by the American Board of Internal Medicine (ABIM). A few months later, I learned that I passed the exam, and that success, combined with an attestation by my residency program director, rendered me […]

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The US News “Best Hospitals” List: In God We Trust, All Others Must Bring Data

I knew it would happen sooner or later, and earlier this week it finally did. In 2003 US News & World Report pronounced my hospital, UCSF Medical Center, the 7th best in the nation. That same year, Medicare launched its Hospital Compare website. For the first time, quality measures for patients with pneumonia, heart failure, and […]

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Why the Supreme Court’s Healthcare Decision Will Mean a Lot… and Not So Much

Like waiting outside the Vatican for the puff of white smoke, the nation sits on edge awaiting the Supreme Court’s ruling on the Affordable Care Act. The ruling, which is likely to be announced next week, could toss out the entire healthcare reform bill, chop off one of its limbs (probably the so-called individual mandate), […]

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