Doctors’ Bad Habits

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.

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NYU Stories

NYU Stories

A rare glimpse into the effects of shuttling from patient to patient without being allowed to process the powerful feelings—fear, anger, grief—that naturally arise when lives are at stake.

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The Raw Fear of Being a Patient

The Raw Fear of Being a Patient

At that moment, my faith in science plummeted from beneath me. My decades of medical training, my Ph.D. in biochemistry, my grounding in the scientific method, all evaporated in the blink of an eye.

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Humanities For Science Majors

Humanities For Science Majors

For one premed, a chance exposure to an unknown sliver of literature sprung open an entirely new world. The unexpected opportunity to steep in the humanities offered me ways to think and write about medicine that I doubt would have been accessible to me otherwise.

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More Power to the Placebo

More Power to the Placebo

The hospital ward was quiet for the night, except for “the howler.” The patient and I were both pretty exasperated with each other. He was sullen and cranky; I was exhausted and at my wits’ end.

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Doctors Blame Others for Medical Costs

Doctors Blame Others for Medical Costs

If doctors feel that the grind of medicine is just going to get worse, then they won’t have any stake in making major changes. You can present all the data you want but it doesn’t have a chance when stacked up against emotion and experience.

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Review in “Clinical Correlations”

Review in “Clinical Correlations”

As the saxophone virtuoso Charlie Parker said, “If you don’t live it, it won’t come out of your horn.”

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Review in "Science-Based Medicine"

Review in "Science-Based Medicine"

A patient might reasonably say “I don’t give a damn how my doctor feels as long as she gets me better,” but emotions affect everything we do, influencing clinical decisions and patient outcomes.

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The Doctor Will See Your EMR Now

The Doctor Will See Your EMR Now

Like the milkman of yore, the doctor makes rounds every day in the hospital. Alas, this image would be true today only if a computer terminal were plunked in the bed instead of a patient

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Respect and How it Impacts Patient Safety

Respect and How it Impacts Patient Safety

When we tolerate a culture of disrespect, we aren’t just being insensitive, or obtuse, or lazy, or enabling. We’re in fact violating the first commandment of medicine: Do No Harm.

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The Immigrant Healthcare Imperative

The Immigrant Healthcare Imperative

Legalizing "undocumented" immigrants might be a boon for our healthcare system. Immigration reform makes both economic and medical sense. A young immigrant from Tibet offers first-hand lessons.

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Patients Need Poetry…And So Do Doctors

Patients Need Poetry…And So Do Doctors

Sometimes it is the things we deem least practical that wield the most power. In fact, poetry’s impracticality may be its strength. By being just words on a page, it isn’t expected to pull the weight of chemotherapy, antibiotics, or an MRI machine. So when a poem does pack a punch, we’re often bowled over.

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Discussions about Empathy

Discussions about Empathy

Danielle Ofri discusses empathy, medical errors, teaching medical students, being a role model, the ethics of writing about patients, and her absolute distaste for New York City roaches.

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The Dirty Secret About Medical Errors

The Dirty Secret About Medical Errors

As physicians we see medicine as a science. We think of ourselves as rational, evidence-based practitioners. But we are far less rational than we tell our patients and ourselves that we are.

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Can We Let Doctors Be Human?

Can We Let Doctors Be Human?

Is our vision clouded because we are so immersed in the world of sickness? Is it because this helps reinforce the power dynamic that has kept patients "in their place" for centuries? Or might it be because, like our patients we doctors are scared down to our bones? If we were to see our patients…

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At Bellevue, a Hospital Reflects its Changing World

At Bellevue, a Hospital Reflects its Changing World

Though city hospitals invoke images of charity patients from teeming, poverty-stricken slums, of substandard, last-resort medical care, the reality is quite different. Medical care is top-notch, and patients come from all walks of life.

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An Epidemic of Disillusioned Doctors?

An Epidemic of Disillusioned Doctors?

“That’s it," I thought, after an overwhelming morning in clinic. "I quit!” It’s a thought that crosses the minds of the majority of doctors, it seems. A survey of more than 13,000 doctors found that more than two-thirds feel negatively about their profession.

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Medical Sensibility: Whose Feelings Count?

Medical Sensibility: Whose Feelings Count?

What Doctors Feel: How Emotions Affect the Practice of Medicine is as close to a page-turner as a clinician's story is likely to become. What Doctors Feel deserves to be well received and widely read.

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Empathy for "Undesirable" Patients

Empathy for "Undesirable" Patients

Doctors have notorious contempt for alcoholics, drug addicts, and morbidly obese patients, and they often make little effort to conceal it. By unspoken rules, these patients are considered fair game for jokes by medical personnel at all levels. Hospital slang for such patients reflects not just disgust but also anger and resentment.

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When Doctors Feel Fear

When Doctors Feel Fear

I remember the first time I laid eyes on an actual amygdala, after slicing through a brain with a repurposed kitchen knife in neuroanatomyclass. That’s it? I thought. That nickel-size splotch tucked below the temporal lobes was the seat of my fears? It was monumentally underwhelming and even lacked the poetic almond shape that its…

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New York Times review

New York Times review

This book’s hallmark is honesty, particularly when it comes to the emotional fallout of her medical mistakes.

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Fear is a Primal Emotion

Fear is a Primal Emotion

This was it—the first code I was in charge of. After two years of racing to codes as a first- and second-year resident, now suddenly, the code was mine. I was the one to call the shots, to direct the care, to assign the jobs, to make the decisions....Shit!

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Tolerating Ambiguity

Tolerating Ambiguity

When faced with ambiguous situations, most of us — quite humanly — want to run for the tantalizing veneer of the certain. We doctors pride ourselves in the scientific girders of modern medicine. Much of the time, though, we function in an ambiguous zone, without clear-cut answers.

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The Darkest Year of Medical School?

The Darkest Year of Medical School?

Next month, your future doctor will take the first steps into clinical medicine. I am not talking about the first day of internship (though that also happens on July 1), but the monumental transition that medical students make at the halfway point of medical school from the classroom years to the clinical years.

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An Examination of Doctors, Straight from the Heart

An Examination of Doctors, Straight from the Heart

A fascinating journey into the heart and mind of a physician struggling to do the best for her patients while navigating an imperfect health care system that often seems to value “efficiency,” measured in dollars and minutes, more than the emotional well-being of either physician or patient.

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Medical Errors and the Culture of Shame

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…

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Oliver Sacks video

Oliver Sacks video

Full video of Danielle Ofri's interview of Oliver Sacks is now available. Hear the full conversation, ranging from the ethics of using patients' stories, to the ins and outs of hallucinations, to the relative merits of Bach versus Beethoven.

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Creativity in Medicine

Creativity in Medicine

"What are you doing creatively these days?" It’s not a question you hear commonly. Medicine is a field with a strong history of creativity, but its daily practice feels less and less creative

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Intensive Care: A Doctor’s Journey (new eBook!)

Intensive Care: A Doctor’s Journey (new eBook!)

"Intensive Care" is a journey through the inner world of medicine, sampling all of Danielle's books, including her forthcoming book: What Doctors Feel: How Emotions Affect the Practice of Medicine." This eBook has a special price of $3.99 and is available on all electronic platforms.

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Incidental Finding?

Incidental Finding?

A small adrenal mass was “incidentally noted” on my patient’s CT. But once the incidentaloma had been given life, so to speak, it was no longer incidental. We were now obliged to run some highly complicated — and expensive — lab tests.

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