Time for the Medical Profession to Stand Up

Advocating for patients is as much a part of medical care as the medical care itself. Should that advocacy, however, extend beyond the doctor’s office, when politics has palpable effects on patients’ health? Most doctors see an intrinsic distinction between calling an insurance company and calling a senator. But in terms of our patients’ health, there is a moral argument that they are equivalent More

The Conversation Placebo

Pain remedies developed by the pharmaceutical industry are only modestly effective, and they have side effects that range from nausea and constipation to addiction and death. What’s often overlooked is that the simple conversation between doctor and patient can be as potent an analgesic as many treatments we prescribe. More

The Pain Med Conundrum

Under-treating pain violates the basic ethical principles of medicine. On the other hand, we are lambasted for over-prescribing pain medications. What are doctors to do? More

Board Recertification: A Waste of Time?

It used to be that you tackled the medical board exams just once after residency. Then you went into practice and never looked at a No. 2 pencil again. More

Adventures in ‘Prior Authorization’

“Dear Doctor. We are writing to inform you that a prior authorization is required for the medication you prescribed.” That’s usually where I stop reading. More

Why Doctors Don’t Take Sick Days

From day one in medical training, the unspoken message is that calling in sick is for wimps. Most doctors ignore their symptoms and resist taking the day off unless they are sick enough to be hospitalized in the next bed over. What explains this toxic brew of denial, ignorance and bravado? More

Doctors’ Bad Habits

We doctors constantly lament how difficult it is get our patients to change their behavior. But the truth is, we are equally intransigent when it comes to changing our own behaviors as caregivers. More

Medical Errors and the Culture of Shame

It was probably our eighth or ninth admission that day, but my intern and I had given up counting. I was midway through my medical residency, already a master of efficiency. You had to be, or you’d never keep up. This one was a classic eye-roller: a nursing home patient with dementia, sent to the emergency room for an altered mental status. When you were juggling patients with acute heart failure and rampant infections, it was hard to get worked up over a demented nonagenarian who was looking a little more demented. More

Lab, Interrupted

All academic medical centers rest on a tripod — patient care, education and research. The effect of Hurricane Sandy on the third leg of that tripod — research — has gotten the least attention, partly because rescuing cell cultures just isn’t as dramatic as carrying an I.C.U. patient on a ventilator down flights of stairs in the dark. But, of course, there is an incontrovertible link between those cell cultures and that patient. More

Imagine a World Without AIDS

The beginning of the end of AIDS? Could it really be?For those of us who did our medical training in the late ’80s and early ’90s, AIDS saturated our lives. The whole era had a medieval feel, with visceral suffering and human decimation all around. More

Doctors Have Feelings Too

Doctors should be aware of emotions that may lead them to be less than honest with patients or reluctant to admit errors. More

Books by Danielle Ofri

Subscribe