It was 6:30 AM. I heard the garbage truck pull up in front of my house. Crap. I hadn’t put the trash out the day before, but usually that wasn’t a serious problem; they usually come much later in the day. I ran to the front of my house and looked out. The truck was pulling away.

Sigh. It was not a good way to start the day.

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Dear CDC

Dear CDC: I am a primary care doctor and have been a big fan for a long time. Your common sense science-based approach to problems has given me an anchor to which to give reasonable and rational recommendations for the care of my patients. You’ve (largely) stood above the clamor of the masses, the pressure

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Testing Times

For those wanting my clinical opinions and thoughts as the COVID-19 crisis evolved, I’ve been keeping a blog on my practice website to educate my patients. Go here if interested My first possible COVID-19 case came nearly three weeks ago, before there were any cases in our city. He was a healthcare professional who presented

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In case you missed the news: there’s a new virus in town…and they named it after a cruddy beer!!

All of the hype surrounding the coronavirus has created a new and difficult situation for me, my staff, and on doctors around the world. How do we answer our patients who are terribly afraid of what they are hearing? China is quarantined, the Olympics might get cancelled, Oprah has been crowned Empress of civilization…OK, that Oprah thing is no true, but the rest is pretty scary. Is it hype that we should downplay, or is it seriously scary stuff that we should warn our patients, our friends, and our families about?

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Welcome to Hell

While my practice doesn’t accept money from insurance companies, we do serve our patients for the sake of their health. This means that we advocate on their behalf in a system that seems hell-bent on making care less accessible. Prior-auth hell is one example of this wall that has been built up between people and reasonable care. Electronic medical record hell, pharmacy trickery hell, specialist non-communication hell, bloated hospital gouging hell, media non-story hype hell, and opportunist alternative medicine hell are all contributors to the hell-fire heat we are all feeling.

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Burned by Caring

The real problem was that I cared too much. I couldn’t short-change the patient once I was with them in the exam room. I couldn’t force them to only give me one problem, make them reschedule for something I could handle that day, or refuse to check the ear of the child who happened to be in the exam room with the patient. I am a caretaker. I am a giver. Yeah, I get taken advantage of because of that, but I thrive off of taking care of people. It’s what gets me out of bed in the morning. It’s what I’m on this planet to do.

And I was being robbed of that.

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Time to Listen

With so much attention to physician burnout and the high cost of care, the discussion spends far too little time talking about the lack of time most primary care docs have for their patients. Before I left my old practice (nearly 7 years ago!), I was increasingly burdened by the fact that I was increasingly being robbed of the time necessary to give good care. I was spending too much time dealing with red tape from the insurance companies and from the rules from the government aimed at “improving care.” Since quitting, I’ve yet to see more than 15 patients in any given day, and am often reminded how much my patients appreciate the time I can spend with them.

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What\’s Up, Duck?

So how to pull myself out of my writer’s block? Write about or rupturing healthcare system? Write about the abuse of doctors at the hands of our insurance (and government) overlords? Write about the insanity of politics and the mutilation of common sense? Write about the royals? About Cheetos? About mutant ducks?

Whoa. Mutant ducks. Hmmm. Maybe I should start writing again. I wonder if they eat Cheetos.

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Talking TED

I gave a TED talk.  Okay, it was really a TEDx talk, done right here in Augusta, GA (the garden city…which sounds good until you realize New Jersey is the garden state) on February 3.  The talk was entitled \”Hi, I\’m Rob and I\’m a Recovering Doctor,\” and it focused on how two basic changes in how doctors are paid can totally change the patient experience

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Just One Eye

“Don’t worry, doc.  It’s just one eye.  I’ve got two.”

My stomach lurched to hear this statement.  A guy who has done nothing wrong aside from choosing self-employment (and perhaps inheriting less-than-stellar genes) is left with the choice: financial devastation or blindness in one eye.  He works hard, has served the country, didn’t complain to me at all, yet here he is about to be swallowed by the ever widening maw of impossible medical expense.

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