Can Doctors and Patients be Partners in Healthcare?

By James Channing Shaw, M.D. Trust in doctors. It used to be absolute. If our sick patients improved, we were celebrated. When we failed, families praised us for trying. This arrangement was not right, but no doctor went to any great lengths to change the perception. About three decades ago, the pendulum swung. Now doctoring is frequently viewed as market share, self-promotion, unnecessary procedures and testing. It would seem that professionalism has become obsolete. Patients, too, have changed with the times. Many patients would like to have every test, expect their health problems to be cured, fixed painlessly, no disruption to social calendars, easy parking, and why can’t this cancer be … Continue reading

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The Care of Patients

More humanism and less science, that’s what medicine needs. But, humanism is hard work,and a lot of science is just Tinkertoy. Robertson Davies, The Cunning Man David J. Elpern, MD Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology 2002;47:317-8. Author’s note (July 2015): I wrote this report based on an office study I did in 2000. Originally, it had a number of tables, but the editors truncated the paper, thus confirming the saying, “A camel is a horse designed by a committee.” Still, I often reminisce on the research’s findings: that almost all of our patients need our specialized knowledge and our comfort and caring, while only some require our technical … Continue reading

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Corina’s Pride

To cure sometimes, to relieve often, to comfort always by James Channing Shaw view PDF: CORINA’S PRIDE My resident, Rishaad, presented the case in the corridor: “This is Corina, a fifty year old woman with itching on her back, chest and abdomen. No other medical problems.” He presented his findings and working diagnosis. We entered the examination room. Corina appeared healthy. I agreed that the hundreds of tiny, rough bumps over her torso were probably benign keratoses. Being the third consultant, we performed a biopsy and prescribed short-term symptomatic treatment, asking her to return in a week or so. Outside the room, I explained that such an eruption of itchy … Continue reading

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The Dermatologist, My Father and Me

To cure sometimes, to relieve often, to comfort always.  Abstract:  The patient, a teenage boy with early male-pattern alopecia, is brought to a respected academic dermatologist at a famous medical center for an opinion.  Sixty years later, the experience still resonates. Keywords:  doctor-patient communication, alopecia, baldness, consultation, cruelty, male pattern alopecia My father was especially sensitive about being bald, which, in the context of the 1950’s, was not unusual.  So, when I was in my mid-teens, and the familiar signs of thinning and receding hair began to show, he took me to see a dermatologist. Determined to spare no expense to find a cure for my impending affliction he had … Continue reading

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