When the future is running out, narrating the past helps to prepare



How should you live when you know you’re going to die? It is perhaps the ultimate, eternal question — one we all have to grapple with, but mercifully, don’t have to, until the end is crystallized [...]

Yes, drug-assisted treatment is needed for opioid-addicted patients in U.S. prisons



Among my first memories as a doctor was a disheveled man, barely older than me, handcuffed to a hospital bed, vomiting a thin brown liquid into a pale pink bucket. Between retches, he sobbed and [...]

Health care needs less #innovation



Health care has caught the innovation bug. An industry famously resistant to change suddenly can’t stop innovating — or at least saying it is. Silicon Valley startups are disrupting health care. [...]

The Hospital’s Gift of Downtime



Christmas week is a strange time in the hospital. There’s an added melancholy for patients who spend the holidays hospitalized — a sense that their illness, whatever it might be, is so bad they [...]

A Profusion of Diagnoses. That’s Good and Bad.



I recently cared for a hairdresser who had gone through a year of vague and varied symptoms. What started as a few unpleasant aches soon became debilitating pain throughout her body. A heavy [...]

Stigma Against Gay People Can Be Deadly



I’ve never been sure what to expect when meeting someone who’s just tried to take his own life. But I’ve learned to stop expecting anything. Sometimes, the person in front of me barely speaks, [...]

Even as the U.S. grows more diverse, the medical profession is slow to follow



I’ve never cared for a Hmong child, but I often think about what it would be like. The summer before we started medical school, I and other students were advised to read Anne Fadiman’s “The [...]

How can you tell whether your doctor is any good?



On my last night of residency, a friend and I swapped our most memorable stories. We recalled the nights of panic and triumph caring for dozens of critically ill patients, about the day — okay, [...]

Is It Getting Harder to Care for Poor Patients?



In my more exasperated moments of residency, I must admit I was envious not only of what my supervising doctors knew, but also who they treated. Residents in our clinic, doctors in training just [...]

Can Low-Intensity Care Solve High Health Care Costs?



How much you spend on medical care depends on what you get, but also where you get it. Confoundingly to many, the cost of the same procedure on the same patient by the same physician can vary by [...]