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Published On September 22, 2006

CLINICAL CARE

For Caregivers, Heavy Cares

Medical bloggers discuss their fears and worries.

Medical bloggers not only expound on the latest technologies and policy issues but also, as these excerpts show, use the Web as an outlet for the worry they feel and the fears they face in treating patients.

A ONE-QUESTION QUIZ

Adapted from a June 27 posting at The Cheerful Oncologist by St. Louis oncologist Craig Hildreth.

Last week my partners and I met with a health-care system executive charged with designing a hospital to be built here in suburban St. Louis. Mirabile dictu, the new place will include a cancer center.

As we studied the plans, I was struck with an epiphany that tore me from the banausic descriptions of office placement and patient flow.

“Do you know what is the biggest fear of oncologists?” I asked the group. “It is the fear of working alone. Without our nurses, secretaries and partners, without radiation oncologists, social workers, surgeons, radiologists and many other teammates, we could never give our patients anything close to acceptable care, let alone what they deserve to receive. This center is designed exactly the way we wish it could be.”

A well-planned cancer center is certainly a compliment to the designers, but to us it is a reprieve from the angst we experience daily.

TICK, TICK, TICK...

Adapted from a July 19 posting at Aggravated Doc Surg by “Aggravated DocSurg,” a general surgeon.

There is a part of surgery that largely goes unspoken: the worry. Most of the time, the operations I do are “routine,” although nothing is ever routine about surgery. But certain situations generate enough worry to make me feel as if the devil himself has taken up residence in my stomach, stoking the furnace of hell.

In the vast majority of cases, all the anguish turns out to be a long night of self-torment, and the patient does just fine. But the need to worry never changes, because not every patient sails through hospitalization without a few squalls. And so I fret. I brood. I stew. I agonize. Because, as my old program director told me, “that’s what a good surgeon does. Nobody knows what went on in that operating room except you and God, but only you can correct a problem.”

PRESCRIPTION FOR DANGER

Adapted from a July 15 posting at medpundit by Penny Marchetti, an Ohio family doctor.

Hackers can do all sorts of bad things with computers, like create their own prescriptions. The rules that govern computerized prescriptions ostensibly make things more secure, but there is a much more common method of electronic transmission of a prescription. It’s used every day in every physician’s office, and even in physicians’ homes and cars. Just about every patient has one too. It’s the telephone. Anyone can call any pharmacy, claim to be a doctor or a doctor’s representative, and give themselves a prescription for just about anything. There is absolutely no authentication at the point of use. They just take your word for it. But oddly, there are no rules about telephones.

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