doctor-patient communication

Our Silence Around Dementia

Dementia is not something we doctors talk much about. We all have many patients with dementia — and more every year — but we never seem to chat about it the way we discuss kidney disease or cancer treatment. Why the silence? More

Doctor Priorities vs. Patient Priorities

The patient cheerfully admitted that he hadn’t been paying attention to his diabetes for the last few years. He’d stopped taking his medicine, stopped seeing his doctors, stopped thinking about the disease altogether. What happens when the patient’s priorities and the doctor’s priorities conflict? More

When Doctors Share With Patients

Doctors often “self-disclose” to patients in an attempt to empathize. But contrary to what might be expected, such self-disclosures often turned out not to be helpful in addressing patients’ concerns or building rapport. More

The Raw Fear of Being a Patient

At that moment, my faith in science plummeted from beneath me. My decades of medical training, my Ph.D. in biochemistry, my grounding in the scientific method, all evaporated in the blink of an eye. More

More Power to the Placebo

The hospital ward was quiet for the night, except for “the howler.” The patient and I were both pretty exasperated with each other. He was sullen and cranky; I was exhausted and at my wits’ end. More

The Doctor Will See Your EMR Now

Like the milkman of yore, the doctor makes rounds every day in the hospital. Alas, this image would be true today only if a computer terminal were plunked in the bed instead of a patient More

The Immigrant Healthcare Imperative

Legalizing “undocumented” immigrants might be a boon for our healthcare system. Immigration reform makes both economic and medical sense. A young immigrant from Tibet offers first-hand lessons. More

Tolerating Ambiguity

When faced with ambiguous situations, most of us — quite humanly — want to run for the tantalizing veneer of the certain. We doctors pride ourselves in the scientific girders of modern medicine. Much of the time, though, we function in an ambiguous zone, without clear-cut answers. More

Medical Errors and the Culture of Shame

It was probably our eighth or ninth admission that day, but my intern and I had given up counting. I was midway through my medical residency, already a master of efficiency. You had to be, or you’d never keep up. This one was a classic eye-roller: a nursing home patient with dementia, sent to the emergency room for an altered mental status. When you were juggling patients with acute heart failure and rampant infections, it was hard to get worked up over a demented nonagenarian who was looking a little more demented. More

Incidental Finding?

A small adrenal mass was “incidentally noted” on my patient’s CT. But once the incidentaloma had been given life, so to speak, it was no longer incidental. We were now obliged to run some highly complicated — and expensive — lab tests. More

Medical Check-Ups: Waste of Time?

A new report concluded that general health checkups for adults did not help patients live longer or healthier lives. So is it time to scrap the annual medical check-up? More

Doctors Have Feelings Too

Doctors should be aware of emotions that may lead them to be less than honest with patients or reluctant to admit errors. More

Doc, How Much Time I Got?

There are few situations more horrible than having to tell another human being that he or she is going to die. And it doesn’t get any easier with experience… More

Doctors, Patients, and Computers

The presence of computers in the exam room has had another consequence. Both physically and psychologically it has placed a wedge in the doctor-patient relationship. More

A “Difficult” Patient’s Journey

Chloë Atkins is the type of patient that every doctor dreads—presenting with a plethora of symptoms that don’t offer any obvious medical explanation. There are multitudes of such patients in a general practitioner’s roster and most, thankfully, will not turn out to have a serious illness. But there are a few who do, and as Atkins’ book points out, this can be a harrowing experience. More

Books by Danielle Ofri

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