December 2010

Chaperones for Patients?

The airline passenger who refused to allow a security pat-down made national headlines quickly. The idea of a stranger touching a person’s intimate areas makes most people cringe. But something like this occurs every day in the doctor’s office. More

Gifts of the Magi: For a young doctor far from home, an unexpected present

“Bitter winds churned up First Avenue and tore through the pathetically thin scrubs that Bellevue doled out to its interns. The December sky glowered the same leaden-green color of the bile that Dr. Kamal Singh was siphoning from the gut of Mr. Bill Porter, a homeless alcoholic with a Southern accent, a jauntily curled mustache and a battered walking stick. His skin was sallow and his eyes jaundiced. He squinted at Dr. Singh. ”Thought they weren’t giving visas to Arabs these days,” he rasped.

Dr. Singh controlled his temper. ”Mr. Porter, we don’t discriminate here against doctors or against patients.” He sighed. ”And I’m Sikh.” He pointed to his indigo turban for good measure, but how would a redneck bigot from Texas know Sikhism from Buddhism from vegetarianism?…” More


“This is a case of a 23 year-old Hispanic female…” The speaker droned on with the details of the case that I knew so well. I leaned back in my chair, anticipating and savoring the accolades that were going to come. After all, in a roundabout way, I’d made the diagnosis. I was the one who had the idea to send the Lyme test in the first place. More

A Day in the Clinic

8:30 a.m. Doing intakes—interviews with new patients to the clinic. First one is Carola Castaña, a petite thirty-five-year-old Brazilian who immigrated to the United States three months ago. She folds her hands in her lap as I begin to take her history. She understands my questions better if I ask in Spanish rather than English, but her Portuguese replies are Greek to me, so she struggles to answer in English. More

Books by Danielle Ofri