Palliative Care: From the Get-Go

Palliative Care: From the Get-Go

by Danielle Ofri CNN.com It was a hot July afternoon when I found myself in a quiet hospital lounge, having “the family discussion” with a patient newly admitted to my medical service, a sweet middle-aged woman whose lung cancer had spread so extensively that it now encircled the vital vessels of her chest. The “family…

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Endorphins and Overeating

Endorphins and Overeating

by Danielle Ofri CNN.com As a primary care internist, my practice spans the common adult ailments—diabetes, hypertension, high cholesterol, coronary artery disease, arthritis. It is hard not to avoid the difficult truth that obesity, while perhaps not causing all of these illness, certainly exacerbates them greatly. With my patients, I stay away from issues of…

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The Patient’s Voice

The Patient’s Voice

by Danielle Ofri CNN.com Whenever a patient asks me about the side effects of a particular medication, I point to the very long roster of symptoms listed for the drug. “It’s anything any patient has ever experienced,” I say, then try to help prioritize the symptoms into the more common ones versus the rarer ones.…

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Can We Measure a “Good Doctor?”

Can We Measure a “Good Doctor?”

What do quality measures actually measure? Can they tell us who is a good doctor, or what makes a good doctor?

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Owning Up to Medical Error

Owning Up to Medical Error

Precisely two weeks after completing my medical internship,I proceeded to nearly kill a patient. July marked the startof my second year of residency at New York City’s BellevueHospital, and it was my first time being fully in charge of a patient.

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When Unemployed Means Unhealthy Too

When Unemployed Means Unhealthy Too

Research confirms what physicians observe and what everyone seems to know in their gut: losing a job is bad for our health. Our crazy patchwork system that ties health insurance to our jobs means that the recession--and it's "jobless recovery"--are damaging our nation's health.

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Facing Our Prejudices

Facing Our Prejudices

I had to be honest—I was uncomfortable with my patient's “morbid obesity.” Perhaps in obese patients we see the feared reflections of ourselves, should we lose our carefully honed discipline. This reaction is entirely irrational, of course; but emotions were never billed as rational, and doctors are as susceptible as anyone else.

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Residency Regulators are Back!

Residency Regulators are Back!

How many hours can a doctor work? The residency regulators are back. About ten years ago, the national organization that accredits residency programs (ACGME) set out its first guidelines about how many hours a doctor-in-training can work. Interns and residents finally achieved the vaunted 80-hour workweek. (New York State was 15 years ahead on this,…

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A fascinating tapestry…

A fascinating tapestry…

“The threads of Danielle Ofri’s memoir, Medicine in Translation, come together in a fascinating tapestry, with shimmers of what it is to be a physician, a mother, a writer and musician, a person with opinions trying to open herself to a world full of differences. She writes well, and the stories she weaves here are…

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True Stories – “Medicine in Translation”

True Stories – “Medicine in Translation”

Review of “Medicine in Translation” by writer/blogger Elaine Zimbel. “In person Dr. Danielle Ofri is an impressive woman with a healthy respect for the doctor/patient relationship.  She was guest speaker at a McGill University seminar entitled “Singular Intimacies: literature as a bridge between doctor and patient”, a topic which particularly interested me since I had…

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The Pastor’s Son

The Pastor’s Son

There was a sharp rap at the apartment door. When Samuel Chuks Nwanko opened it, he saw a young man standing in the hallway wearing a stained denim jacket over a University of Nigeria T-shirt. The whites of his eyes were spidered with crimson streaks. He was probably a fellow university student, but not in…

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Why Don’t Patients Take Their Meds

Why Don’t Patients Take Their Meds

A good chunk of every medical visit is spent writing prescriptions. The computer has made it easier on the doctor, but it doesn’t seem to have much effect on the patient. A good chunk for these beautifully printed, fully legible prescriptions never make it to the drug store to be converted into actual pills.

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Jewish Book World review

Jewish Book World review

“Medicine in Translation” reviewed in Jewish Book World “Often lost in rancorous public debates is the impact proposed social changes will have on individuals. The health care reform bill recently passed by Congress is one such case. Billions of dollars may be saved and millions of people will have health insurance. But what can happen…

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Two Steps Forward for America’s Health

Two Steps Forward for America’s Health

The fine print of the 2010 Health Care Reform bill is still being analyzed. Shortcomings and limitations are being uncovered. But a new report from the Commonwealth Fund showed that there will be immense and immediate gains for young adults. Most young adults “fall off” of their parents’ health insurance plans once they complete their…

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A Patient, a Death, but No One to Grieve

A Patient, a Death, but No One to Grieve

What if a patient dies and nobody is there to mourn? Is it like a tree falling silently in the forest?

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Scenes From the Lives They Lived in the City

Published: June 29, 2003 New York Times excerpt from SINGULAR INTIMACIES: Becoming a Doctor at Bellevue By Danielle Ofri (Beacon Press) ”Nine P.M.,” somebody shouted. ”Rikers bus rollin’ in!” I stepped out of the Bellevue E.R. into the chilly spring night to see what the excitement was. Just pulling in was a school bus, the…

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Treating Patients When Language Is Only One of the Barriers

by Mike Reicher January 4, 2010 New York Times “A defective heart, a child detained by border guards — Julia Barquero had already had her struggles. But now her physician at Bellevue Hospital Center, Dr. Danielle Ofri, was trying to explain to Ms. Barquero that she could not receive a heart transplant because she was…

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At Bellevue, a hospital reflects a changing world

At Bellevue, a hospital reflects a changing world

Though city hospitals invoke images of charity patients and substandard, last-resort medical care, the reality is quite different.

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Los Angeles Times articles

Danielle Ofri’s articles in the Los Angeles Times Note: articles in the Los Angeles Times do not have full free access (at this time). When a patient dismisses the data by Danielle Ofri Dec 28, 2009 Los Angeles Times “…(And when politicians start to weigh in, you can be sure that the hard data have…

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Sometimes, Doctors Find Answers Far Off the Charts

Sometimes, Doctors Find Answers Far Off the Charts

By DANIELLE OFRI, M.D. Published: December 7, 2004 New York Times “Carmen came to my clinic because of a scalp condition. She was 37 years old, slender, casually but fashionably dressed, with the broad bill of a red baseball cap obscuring her face. Thick, silky black hair slid out from the sides as she shyly…

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At a Bustling City Clinic, Esperanto Would Come In Handy

At a Bustling City Clinic, Esperanto Would Come In Handy

By  Danielle Ofri. New York Times Despite three long years of high school French, the best I could come up with was “Je m’appelle Dr. Ofri.“ Mr. M. – I guessed he was from Africa – smiled politely. No doubt he was accustomed to the challenges of communication here, especially in a bustling city clinic…

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A Literary Review at Bellevue? Believe It

By DINITIA SMITH Published: October 2, 2002 New York Times ”Just tell me a story,” Dr. Danielle Ofri admonishes her medical students and interns at morning rounds. To Dr. Ofri, an attending physician at Bellevue Hospital Center, a part-time writer and the editor in chief of the Bellevue Literary Review, every patient’s history is a…

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Alone

Alone

We like to think of human beings as social animals, and by and large we are. Most of us exist in complex networks of siblings, parents, children, friends, colleagues, neighbors, and acquaintances. And usually we take this for granted. Every so often, in my work at the hospital, I come across a patient who has…

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Book Club Guides

Book Club Guides

Have a book club? Looking for something different? Beacon Press now offers book club guides for all four of Danielle’s books. There is also a book club guide for “The Best of the Bellevue Literary Review.” Check them out and share with friends. Danielle has made personal appearances at book clubs  (both in person and…

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Shingles and Dollars

Shingles and Dollars

Good health is only affordable—for the majority of the population—if it is covered by insurance. An excellent case in point is the vaccine for shingles (herpes zoster). Shingles is the revisiting of the chicken pox virus. The virus lives in the body since the first episode of shingles as a child, and then flares up…

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“A Sweet Life”

“A Sweet Life”

Danielle interviewed by Jane Kokernak for “A Sweet Life,” a wonderful new website that’s worth checking out. Q: Danielle, your book Medicine in Translation makes clear that, in the course of treating your patients, you seek to learn something about their lives beyond their lists of symptoms, numbers, and medications. In therapeutic terms, what do…

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Hospital Rankings: Bulk and Bunk

Hospital Rankings: Bulk and Bunk

What’s inside the sausage of hospital rankings? Every year the U.S. New & World Report publishes its rankings of the nation’s top 50 hospitals. Hospital administrators await this top 50 report with a tension and fervor that rivals the NFL first-draft pick. As soon as the report is released, snippets rocket their way into donor…

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St. Vincent’s Hospital (1849-2010)

St. Vincent’s Hospital (1849-2010)

Locking the entrance to the emergency room: there could not have been a more potent image to the final day of St. Vincent’s Hospital in New York City. After 160 years, St. Vincent’s closed because of financial problems. It was the only hospital serving Greenwich Village and the last Catholic hospital in Manhattan. The closing…

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Immigration and Health Care

Immigration and Health Care

by Danielle Ofri CNN Every time Jade backs into my tiny office, I am impressed. With a skill worthy of a New York taxi driver, she maneuvers her manual wheelchair in reverse into the sliver of space between the exam table and my desk in our crowded city clinic. Despite her paraplegia from a teenage…

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Arizona—The Newest Soviet Republic

Arizona—The Newest Soviet Republic

In a move that would fit right in with Stalinist governing style, Governor Jan Brewer signed bill SB-1070 into law, making it a state crime to walk the streets of Arizona without papers proving one’s immigration status. A person could be detained by police and charged with a misdemeanor for forgetting their wallet. Let’s only…

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