Empathy in the Age of the EMR

We doctors have been reduced to tools of mere data entry. A higher being might peek into our exam room and be unable to distinguish the doctor from the sphygmomanometer. There is at least one upside to this mess, however. The aggressiveness of the EMR’s incursion into the doctor-patient relationship has forced us to declare our loyalties: are we taking care of patients or are we taking care of the EMR? More

The Daily Exploitation of Medical Staff

Corporate medicine has milked just about all the “efficiency” it can out of the system. With mergers and streamlining, it has pushed the productivity numbers about as far as they can go. But one resource that seems endless — and free — is the professional ethic of medical staff members. More

Doctor-Writers: What Are the Ethics?

There is a veritable epidemic of doctor-writers out there. What is going on? Are doctors suddenly in the kiss-and-tell mode? What about confidentiality? Professionalism? HIPAA? As one of the aforementioned doctor-writers, I look upon this trend with both awe and trepidation. More

Perchance to Think

In the pressurized world of contemporary outpatient medicine, there is simply no time to think. With every patient, we doctors race to cover the bare minimum, sprinting in subsistence-level intellectual mode because that’s all that’s sustainable. More

A Tense Moment in the ER

The hospital, by definition, is a stressful place for patients and families unsettled by the vulnerabilities of the human body. Add in issues of race, class, gender, power dynamics, economics, and long wait times, and you have the ingredients for combustion just hankering for tinder. More

The Insulin Wars

Insurance companies and drug manufacturers have come upon an ingenious business plan: They could farm out their dirty work to the doctors and the patients. When there’s an E. coli outbreak that causes illness and death, we rightly expect our regulatory bodies to step in. The outbreak of insulin greed is no different. More

A True Role Model: Dr. Lisa Schwartz

Lisa was my very first resident. She taught us medical students how to aspirate ascites fluid from the abdomen of a cirrhotic patient, how to diagnose granulomatosis with polyangitis, how to wrangle a CT scan from an obdurate radiologist, how to handle a hallucinating patient who spoke only Igbo, and where to get a cheese Danish once the coffee shop closed. More

The Day After the Elections

Depression, anxiety, thoughts of suicide–these are the very real side effects of Trump policies. My visit with Mr. A on the morning after the midterm elections seemed to crystallize all the bitterness of what has been unleashed in this country, and the effects it has on the people who suffer under it. More

Prescribing Democracy

“There cannot be any doubt,” Dr. Rudolf Virchow wrote in 1848, that the recent typhus epidemic was a result of “poverty and underdevelopment.” His prescription was “free and unlimited democracy.” Hmm–a prescription for democracy. Not something you get at your average doctor’s visit. But maybe that’s what we need. More

Nursing Juliet

A dog is both Rorschach and receptacle, a two-way highway for love unbounded and unadulterated. In a world that relentlessly enforces limits, the love of a pet is a refuge for unconstrained emotion, especially for a child. More

A Doctor’s Responsibility

“Excuse me, sir,” I imagine the scenario playing out, “do you mind if I barge in on your life to see if I can save your life?” At what point does concern morph into presumption? The line between kindly interventions and condescending ones can be perilously thin. More

Child Separation Is a Medical Emergency

In adult medicine, we see daily the physical and psychological effects of early childhood trauma. Well into older age, patients retain the scars and setbacks from those early experiences. The list of effects of early childhood trauma is so expansive that it wasn’t surprising to see the president of the American Academy of Pediatrics refer to border agents’ removal of children from parents as “government-sanctioned child abuse.” More

Your Medical Chart Might be Biased

Medical charts are the primary means of communication among medical professionals. Coded language in the charts covertly signals to other members of the team which patients aren’t trustworthy or deserving. What does it mean when doctors and nurses–consciously or unconsciously–slip dog whistles into your medical chart? More

Medical Humanities

When your body threatens mutiny and you are peering into the abyss, you want a doctor who has contemplated mortality in a deep way. Being sick is indeed hell and every patient deserves a Virgil. Infusing the medical training with a bit more Virgil just might be the key. More

Art & Anatomy

The “art of medicine” is a term that is used—sometimes disparagingly—to refer to the non-technical skills of medicine. Artistic rendering enables us to appreciate the emotional grappling one must do in the world of anatomy and in the larger world of medicine. More

Books by Danielle Ofri

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