Patient Communication

[Un]Informed Consent?

“Do I need this trigger finger release?” “Should I treat my distal radius fracture in a cast or have plates and screws placed?” “What is the long term risk if I choose not to have my painful TFCC tear repaired?” The process of obtaining informed consent is an ethical obligation central to the process of counseling a patient about his…

How do you care for your patients?

Dr. Francis Peabody’s well-known quote from The Care of the Patient states “the secret of the care of the patient is in caring for the patient.” I would like to think about this quote in a little more depth in the context of the increasing modernization of medical records. A few weeks ago, my department “upgraded” our electronic medical record…

“What’s in your tool chest?”

I have never considered myself a “carpenter” and am not particularly handy around the house. My enthusiasm for orthopaedic surgery was not a love of hammers and nails, but a desire to be able to be both a primary care musculoskeletal provider and surgical subspecialist. I initially wanted to become a cardiac surgeon, and my interest in complicated problems and…

Patient Communication 101

When I recently learned that a friend of mine, Miro Kazakoff, teaches Managerial Communication at the MIT Sloan School of Management, I thought, “Wow, what an interesting job” and “Why do they teach communication in business school but not medical school?” Miro was kind enough to take me through a crash course in communications, which I then tested out in…

The Power of Humor

There is a lot of evidence and belief that humor can positively affect health outcomes. In the medical environment when patients are anxious and fearful, humor can reduce anxiety. In fact it is thought that the very purpose of humor is to counteract the negatives that are thrown our way in day-to-day life, preventing people from descending into doom and…

The Opioid Epidemic: What is our role?

“To see what is in front of one’s nose is a constant struggle”.  – George Orwell The United States is grappling with an epidemic of prescription opioid medications, and the statistics are frightening. Opioid prescribing remains higher in the United States compared with anywhere else in the world, and 80% of the world’s opioids are prescribed and consumed in this…

Forgive and Remember

Since I was informed of New York State’s investigation of my practice in 2010, when a drug-seeking patient complained that I did not prescribe postoperative narcotics, I have had ample time for introspection and self-evaluation. Indeed, I have asked myself how such a “good physician” and “good man” could be shamed so mercilessly, particularly since I, like Mark Chassin expressed…

The Power of Words

A lot of our activity as providers of health care is gathering and providing information via the spoken language. I have noted through the observation of students and residents in training and critical reflection on my own experience, the power of words to create fear, anxiety, and uncertainty, or alternatively to create calm, reassurance and hope. Words, the ones chosen,…