PREPARED PATIENT BLOG

Patients and experts explore what it takes to find good health care and make the most of it.

Kenny Lin, M.D., is a board-certified Family Physician practicing in the Washington, DC area. He is also an Associate Editor of the journal American Family Physician and teaches family and preventive medicine at the Georgetown University School of Medicine, Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences, and the Johns Hopkins University Bloomberg School of Public Health. He blogs on Common Sense Family Doctor and U.S. News & World Report’s Consumer Health Blog: Healthcare Headaches. You can follow him on Twitter at @kennylinafp.


A Doctor's Dilemma of Prescribing for Pain

Kenny Lin | October 14, 2014
I have complicated feelings about prescribing for chronic pain. On one hand, I recognize that relieving headaches, backaches, arthritis and nerve pain has been a core responsibility of the medical profession for ages. On the other hand, deaths and emergency room visits from overdoses of prescription painkillers have skyrocketed. I believe that addiction is a disease. So why do I find my patient's lies so hard to forgive?...

Cancer Screening: Understanding 'Relative Risk'

Kenny Lin | June 3, 2014
I have offered before a few reasons for eligible patients to consider not getting screened for lung cancer. I concede, however, that reasonable people might conclude that the potential harms are outweighed by the benefit of reducing one's risk of dying by one-fifth. The next critical question that needs to be asked is: one-fifth of what?

False Alarms and Unrealistic Expectations in Preventive Care

Kenny Lin | March 28, 2013
Shortly after we moved to Washington, DC, my wife and I purchased a basic home security system, the kind with a programmable keypad, multiple door alarms and a motion sensor. All things considered, it's hard to argue that the benefits of this preventive measure have outweighed its cumulative harms.

Too Much Medical Care: Do We Know It When We See It?

Kenny Lin | March 11, 2013
If I didn't object to receiving what I recognized as too much medical care, it should not be a surprise that, according to one study, many inappropriate tests and treatments are being provided more often, not less.

Guest Blog: How Much Does It Cost to Have an Appendectomy?

Kenny Lin | June 7, 2012
A few years ago, a good friend of mine who holds bachelor's and law degrees from Ivy League schools lost his job and became one of the estimated 50 million medically uninsured persons in the U.S. Over the course of several days, he developed increasingly severe abdominal pain, fever, and vomiting.

How Much Does it Cost to Have a Baby?

Kenny Lin | January 24, 2012
My wife and I are expecting our third child, and our new insurance plan requires us to pay 20% coinsurance for all non-preventive care. Given the rapid rate of health care inflation, we thought it prudent to find out how much it would cost this time around. So, we asked for an estimate of the charges. It seemed like a reasonable enough request'

How People's Stories Support Evidence-Based Care

Kenny Lin | December 5, 2011
I was recently asked how evidence from clinical trials can possibly overcome powerful emotional stories of "saved lives." My answer: evidence-based medicine's supporters must fight anecdotes with anecdotes. Statistics show that, while some are saved, many people are temporarily or permanently injured as a result of screenings/testings - and their stories matter too.

No Magic Bullets for the 'War on Cancer'

Kenny Lin | June 30, 2011
Nearly forty years ago, President Richard Nixon famously declared a "War on Cancer" by signing the National Cancer Act of 1971. Like the Manhattan Project, the Apollo program that was then landing men on the Moon, and the ongoing (and eventually successful) World Health Organization-led initiative to eradicate smallpox from the face of the Earth, the "War on Cancer" was envisioned as a massive, all-out research and treatment effort. We would bomb cancer in submission with powerful regimens of chemotherapy, experts promised, or, failing that, we would invest in early detection of cancers so that they could be more easily cured at earlier stages.