The Dangers of Curbside Consults… and Why We Need Them

Everybody hates curbside consults – the informal, “Hey, Joe, how would you treat asymptomatic pyuria in my 80-year-old nursing home patient?”-type questions that dominate those Doctor’s Lounge conversations that aren’t about sports, Wall Street, or ObamaCare. Consultants hate being asked clinical questions out of context; they know that they may give incorrect advice if the […]

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When I Was In the Final Four

I don’t follow much basketball these days. But the week of the NCAA finals always takes me down memory lane. For I, you see, was in the Final Four, thirty-four years ago. Funny thing is, I am an awful basketball player. My role will come to you if you answer the following trivia question: Who […]

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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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HIT Job: How the New York Times Blew it on Healthcare IT

I’m well aware that a good fraction of the people in this country – let’s call them Rush fans – spend their lives furious at the New York Times. I am not one of them. I love the Grey Lady; it would be high on my list of things to bring to a desert island. But […]

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Is the Patient Safety Movement in Danger of Flickering Out?

These should be the best of times for the patient safety movement. After all, it was concerns over medical mistakes that launched the transformation of our delivery and payment models, from one focused on volume to one that rewards performance. The new system (currently a work-in-progress) promises to put skin in the patient safety game […]

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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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“Doctor, Step Away From That Cookbook!”

A middle-aged man develops chest pain at home. Minutes after calling 911, he’s in an ambulance, whizzing through traffic to the nearest emergency room. The paramedics radio ahead, and by the time the patient arrives in the ER, the hospital’s heart attack team has been activated. A stat electrocardiogram shows an ST-elevation myocardial infarction (STEMI), […]

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Making Clinicians Get Flu Shots: More Important Than Simply Preventing the Flu

I was recently speaking to the clinical leaders of a mid-sized hospital, and a senior administrator posed the question, “should we require our doctors and nurses to get flu shots?” The answer, I said, is yes, and it isn’t just to prevent the flu. It’s to get into the habit of making our folks do […]

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Don’t Pawn Off the Work: Bob’s Method for Tackling Big, Hairy Projects

In my last post, I promised – just in time for the New Year – to describe my fail-safe method for tackling overwhelmingly large projects. Please, please don’t waste this method on cleaning out a closet or writing an abstract. That would be like using a flamethrower to light a holiday candle. Rather, consider it […]

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(Not) Saving the Best for Last: Managing One’s Time on Rounds and Sign-Out

A clever little study was published last month in the Archives of Internal Medicine, and it – plus the fact that I’ve just started a stint as ward attending – prompted me to think about the importance of managing a set of tasks in the hospital. In my quarter-century of mentoring residents and faculty, I […]

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