Questions to ask your doctor when starting a new medication

When starting a new medication, appropriate questions to ask your doctor may include the following: What is the purpose of this new medication? What is it meant to do? Will I be taking it in addition to or instead of the medicine I’m already taking? How will I need to take it (with/without food, with another device), and when should I be taking it? Is this medicine meant to treat symptoms (such as acetaminophen for fever), or to prevent symptoms (statins to reduce cholesterol)? I...
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Conflicted Health Care

Conflicted Health Care, written by Ester Carolina Apesoa-Verano and Charles Verano, is a fascinating look at interactions between various team members caring for patients in a large academic medical center in California, interactions to those likely to be quite similar at other hospitals across the country. The book explores the interdisciplinary dynamics between doctors, nurses, social workers, and therapists (respiratory, occupational, speech, and others), as well as the reasons for tensio...
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Launch Party for Vital Conversations

Thank you to all who came out for the launch party for Vital Conversations: Improving Communication Between Doctors And Patients that was hosted last week at Newtonville Books. It was wonderful to see you all there and the presence of each and every one of you meant a great deal to me. Hopefully together we'll be able to effect real change in how communication between doctors and patients is valued by our medical system, for the benefit of us all. (Photo: Ami Shavit)  
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Leaving The Hospital And STAYING Out

Hopefully, all of you will live long and healthy lives that will end peacefully in your sleep sometime after seeing your youngest great-grandchild head off to college. Unfortunately, it will be a lot less rosy for most of us. Disease and illness are natural parts of our lives, and as science and technology advance people now live longer—and with more coexisting medical conditions—than ever before. As we get older we tend to consume more medications, and the likelihood of being hospitalized b...
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Dreams and Visions of the Dying

Most people don’t just suddenly drop dead. Instead, their death comes at the end of a long and steady decline. In the absence of dementia or other loss of mental faculties, the dying are usually acutely aware of death’s approach and either struggle with or make peace with it, as Elisabeth Kübler-Ross so eloquently described in her seminal book On Death and Dying. Coming to terms with death extends beyond conscious thought. It permeates the unconscious, manifesting as nighttime dreams and ...
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The Drug ‘Doctor’

Good communication between doctors and patients is critically important: unless our doctors understand what ails us, it will be very hard for them to help us heal. And without being clear on our end about what we need do to regain our health—which pills to take when, for example, and for how long—the likelihood that the prescribed treatments will fail increases substantially. This can lead to extra and often unnecessary testing and procedures, greater expense, poorer health outcomes, and added...
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