A Tax Plan that’s a Medical Emergency

Three members of the U.S. Congress are physicians. But they seem to share a collective amnesia about the Hippocratic Oath. The bill being proposed by Republicans is about taxes, but the toll on our health could be worse than the toll on our wallets. More

Patients vs Paperwork

Like some virulent bacteria doubling on the agar plate, the EMR grows more gargantuan with each passing month, requiring ever more (and ever more arduous) documentation to feed the beast. It’s time to take action. More

Medical Humanities: The Rx for Uncertainty?

A large part of our medical maturation is facing uncertainty and then accepting it into our fold. This is far harder than memorizing all those rare diseases. The humanities can offer doctors a paradigm for living with ambiguity and even for relishing it. More

One Last Visit to See My Patient

My 91-year-old patient and I had been together for some 20 years — honestly I’d lost count — so visiting her at home, even in the torrential rain, was the least I could do. More

Nothing Glamorous about Opioid Addiction

Pain stands nearly alone as a medical condition that not only can’t be measured but that patients might also have an ulterior motive to lie about. I never wonder if a patient is lying when she says she is constipated or has a vaginal itch. But the reality is that there’s not much street value for Metamucil, and there aren’t any rehabs filled with recovering Monistat addicts. More

How We Treat Our Fellow Americans

The blossoming truth of “No Apparent Distress” is that a segment of American society has been casually cast aside, left to scavenge on the meager scraps of volunteer health services, and failing that, left to die. Some politicians might call this “choice.” A more medically accurate term would be abandonment. More

Healthcare’s Biggest Conflict of Interest

The doctor-patient relationship is a one-on-one interaction, and so conflicts of interest are concrete and directly personal. Medical decisions can be swayed by money, even unconsciously, regardless of whether it’s from insurance companies or from industry. But the most basic conflict of interest is that health care access is tied to health insurance. Presence or absence or extent of health insurance is the most powerful influence on how doctors care for patients. More

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

It’s Time for a Single-Payer Plan

On the campaign trail, Donald Trump promised better health care at a lower cost that would include everyone. Although he almost certainly did not realize it, he was promoting an idea of universal health care that could only be achieved by a single-payer plan. More

Lancet review of “What Patients Say; What Doctors Hear”

“For all the sophisticated diagnostic tools of modern medicine, the conversation between doctor and patient remains the primary diagnostic tool.” This idea lies at the heart of Danielle Ofri’s new book What Patients Say, What Doctors Hear, in which she acknowledges, dissects, experiments with, and analyses the complexities and miscues of the patient–doctor exchange. More

Losing a Patient

He made his way into my exam room supported by two metal crutches that braced at the elbow, lurching his withered legs forward, step by excruciating step. He was a wisp of a man, barely clocking in at 100 lbs—wasted away, it looked like, from untreated polio and a lifetime of subsistence living. Yet somehow here he was in bustling Manhattan, having managed to navigate our bureaucratic hospital system just a few months after arriving from East Africa. More

Is Gun Violence like Chicken Pox?

Gun violence has been characterized as an epidemic. But can a disease model of contagion help predict future victims and potentially protect them? Is gun violence really like chicken pox? More

Gaps in Coverage from GOP’s Health Plan Can be Deadly

When patients get “lost to follow-up”—for whatever reason—their health status plummets. Often times the damage wrought by gaps in care and inconsistent access is permanent. When was the last time that a president of the United States deliberately put so many Americans in harm’s way? More

UK Spectator: How to improve bedside manners

Some will always see the doctor-patient exchange as a fluffy appendage to ‘real medicine’. But if Ofri’s book succeeds in easing the passage from ‘presenting complaint’ into open conversation, informative for and complementary to further technical interventions, that would be very good news for both the doctor and the patient. More

St. Louis Post-Dispatch on “What Patients Say, What Doctors Hear”

“What Patients Say, What Doctors Hear” is not so much a how-to guide, but a convincing argument for why good communication is at the heart of good medical care. More

Books by Danielle Ofri

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