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

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

Doctor Visit Guide

Going to the doctor isn’t most people’s favorite activity. I often get asked by friends and family how to make the most of a medical visit. Here’s my advice, and it’s basically the same whether you are the patient, or a family member or a caregiver of the patient. 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

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

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

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

The Conversation Placebo

Pain remedies developed by the pharmaceutical industry are only modestly effective, and they have side effects that range from nausea and constipation to addiction and death. What’s often overlooked is that the simple conversation between doctor and patient can be as potent an analgesic as many treatments we prescribe. More

Just a “Regular” Doctor

“What’s your specialty?” This question continually flummoxes me. This is the moment that I experience a brief surge of envy toward my cardiology and dermatology colleagues who have simple one-word answers to this question that any lay person can understand. More

The Doctor-Patient Relationship is Alive and Well

Medicine is unquestionably harder than it was 10 years ago. Many more doctors I know talk about quitting (an option that is not equally available to patients). However, there’s been no mass exodus of doctors. We doctors grumble loudly — often with good cause — but we aren’t quitting in droves, mainly because of patients like Ms. M. More

Why Does the Physical Exam Stop at the Navel?

It’s like our patients are Humpty Dumpty, and the pieces are divvied out between different medical fields. Can we put the patient back together again? More

Should Doctors Care About Happiness?

We in the health care professions need to notice and inquire about happiness the same way we do other aspects of our patients’ lives. More

A Doctor in the Neighborhood

There aren’t any ethical guidelines about where a doctor should live or how she should behave when she and her patient are in line at the grocery store. More

Patients, and Doctors, Aren’t Dying at Home

Doctors, it turns out, aren’t much different than everyone else when it comes to where they die. More

The “Mall-ification” of Health Care

Retail health clinics have exploded over the last 10 years, and now it seems like every other big box store, supermarket and shopping mall has its own clinic. More

Books by Danielle Ofri

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