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Health Insurance, Meet the Jolly Green Giant

Trudy Lieberman | August 31, 2011

It's official now. The government has proposed that descriptions of health insurance policies will resemble those nutritional labels on canned and packaged foods'the ones you look at to find out how much sodium there is in Birds Eye peas versus the A&P brand.

Middle-of-the-Night Medicine is Rarely Patient-Centred

Jessie Gruman | August 31, 2011

Here's is my recent interview for 'Middle-of-the-Night Medicine is Rarely Patient-Centred' by Erin Walkinshaw, a report in the Canadian Medical Association Journal (CMAJ) on the subpar level of health care provided in hospitals on weekends or evenings.

Informed Consent & Doctor-Patient Communications in the News

Conversation Continues | August 30, 2011

The recent case of Phillip Seaton, a Kentucky man who sued his surgeon after having a partial penile amputation, raises concerns about the effectiveness of the informed consent process, general health literacy and problems with doctor-patient communications.

Guest Blog: Recovery and Healing

Katherine Ellington | August 29, 2011

Medical student Katherine Ellington grapples with reconciling her two roles as daughter and doctor-in-training as her mother recovers from a heart procedure.

Technical Difficulties: Houston, We Have a Problem'

Patient Perspectives | August 25, 2011

Advances in health technology have meant that many illnesses now come with electronic devices used to detect, measure, or alleviate them. But, even the newest instrument can be problematic. Here, four patients share their tech-related stories.

Inside Health Care: Barriers to Care: ''a Failure to Communicate'

CFAH Staff | August 24, 2011

A new study shows that 21% of adult Americans delay seeking health care for reasons other than cost. In this collection, a doctor, a journalist, and a health care manager discuss the need for improved systems and candor to support better doctor-patient communication.

Ask Me if I Washed My Hands and Drank Gatorade in the Last Hour

Jessie Gruman | August 23, 2011

Do you suffer from decision fatigue when you are sick or anxious or overwhelmed by bad health news? Does your doctor make less well-reasoned decisions about the 10th patient she sees before lunch? How about the surgeon during his second operation of the day? How about the radiologist reading the last mammogram in a daily batch of 60? A provocative article by John Tierney in Sunday's NYTimes Magazine adds a new layer of complexity to the body of knowledge collecting around decision-making processes.

Matters of the Heart

Katherine Ellington | August 22, 2011

When her mom is being treated for a newly diagnosed heart condition, medical student Katherine Ellington learns first-hand how her medical training applies to real life. This is the second in a series of three posts.

NBC Urges Women >40 to Ask About CRP Test

Gary Schwitzer | August 19, 2011

After seeing the NBC Nightly News last night, a physician urged me to write about what he saw: a story about a "simple blood test that could save women's lives." Readers - and maybe especially TV viewers - beware whenever you hear a story about "a simple blood test."

The Complexities of Non-Compliance

Conversation Continues | August 18, 2011

In recent discussions about patient non-compliance, Stephen Wilkins, Dr. Stewart Segal and patient Ann Silberman all emphasize that doctor-patient communication is key.

Name Calling in Health Care

Jessie Gruman | August 17, 2011

Here is access to my interview-Name Calling in Health Care-hosted by Taunya English on NPR station WHYY.

Check out this week's Grand Rounds at

CFAH Staff | August 16, 2011

Better Health's Grand Rounds is hosted this week by Dr. Ed Pullen, a board certified family physician practicing in Puyallup, WA. His medical blog provides an experienced family physician's viewpoint on medical news as well as giving interesting and helpful information to help patients be informed.

Guest Blog: Summer Palpitations

Katherine Ellington | August 15, 2011

When her mom has a heart emergency, medical student Katherine Ellington learns first-hand how health statistics apply to real life. This is the first in a series of three posts.

When the Insurance Company Says 'No'

Trudy Lieberman | August 12, 2011

Blue Cross just advised a twenty-six-year old woman I know that it will cut off payments for the physical therapy that was making it possible for her to sit at a keyboard for eleven hours a day. Her thirty sessions were up.

Taking a Closer Look at Chronic Pain

Conversation Continues | August 11, 2011

This June, an Institute of Medicine report estimated that chronic pain affects 116 million Americans. Here, Tara Parker-Pope, Maia Szalavitz, and Elizabeth Cohen offer their perspectives on the findings. Kelly Young, RAWarrior, adds her personal experience, too.

Guest Blog: Laurel & Hardy and Prostate Cancer Chemoprevention

Gary Schwitzer | August 10, 2011

A drug currently used for benign prostate problems is now being pushed for prostate cancer prevention. But the FDA warns there's evidence it may actually result in more advanced cancers.

Rhetoric Ahead of Reality: Doctor Ratings Not Useful Yet

Jessie Gruman | August 10, 2011

Given the current lack of useful objective information, we should be wary of imprecations for us to thoroughly check out any doctor before we consult him. For many of us, the idea that we can pre-judge the competence of a physician is presumptuous.

Guest Blog: Evidenced-based Medicine or Easy-bake Oven: Tension Between Evidence and Reality

Kelly Young | August 8, 2011

This post was inspired by the article "Patient Advocates: Flies in the Ointment of Evidenced Based Care" at the Health Affairs Blog. Patient advocacy and evidenced-based medicine are both intimately entwined with several matters in rheumatological care, but first a word about flies. Patient advocates probably are flies in the ointment, and there would certainly be no flies in a perfect world. But in a perfect world, we wouldn't be sick. In a perfect world, doctors could comprehend our pain.

The Emotions Illness Brings

Patient Perspectives | August 5, 2011

The experiences and emotions brought on by having an illness or disability can be complex and sometimes unexpected. In this blog roundup, three patients share theirs.

Guest Blog: NIH to Drop Requirement for Websites Disclosing Researchers' Ties to Industry

Elaine Schattner | August 5, 2011

Word comes from Nature News that the NIH is dropping a proposed requirement for universities to disclose researchers' financial ties to industry on websites. This is a loss for patients, who may not be aware of their doctors' relationships with pharmaceutical companies and others who fund clinical trials, fellowships, conference junkets and other perks for physicians.

Making Informed Health Care Choices

Conversation Continues | August 4, 2011

Recent pieces at HealthNewsReview Blog and in the Washington Post highlight the need for accessible and reliable information about health care services.

Guest Blog: Is It Post-Heart Attack Depression or Just Feeling Sad?

Carolyn Thomas | August 4, 2011

One of the small joys of having launched my site [] is discovering by happy accident the wisdom of other writers ' even when they're writing on unrelated topics not remotely connected to my favourite subject which is, of course, women and heart disease. For example, I happened upon a link to Sandra Pawula's lovely blog called Always Well Within. Sandra teaches mindfulness meditation, and she lives in Hawai'i (note her correct spelling).

Bad Language: Words One Patient Won't Use (and Hopes You Won't Either)

Jessie Gruman | August 3, 2011

"There is a better way - structural reforms that empower patients with greater choices and increase the role of competition in the health-care marketplace." Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI) August 3, 2011. The highly charged political debates about reforming American health care have provided tempting opportunities to rename the people who receive health services. But because the impetus for this change has been prompted by cost and quality concerns of health care payers, researchers and policy experts rather than emanating from us out of our own needs, some odd words have been called into service.

Hit by the Fine Print: Three Ways the Debt Deal Could Hurt Seniors on Medicare

Trudy Lieberman | August 2, 2011

Medicare turned 46 last week, but instead of celebrating its major accomplishment ' keeping millions of older Americans healthy ' it finds itself under siege.

Guest Blog: Can the Blind Lead the Seeing?

Amy Berman | August 1, 2011

Many of you know that eight months ago I was diagnosed with Stage IV inflammatory breast cancer, which has spread to my spine. My incurable diagnosis means that I live with a chronic disease, just like millions of older adults.