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Ten principles for clinicians

Primary care medicine is intense and chaotic, a constantly mutating kaleidoscope of data, emotions, goals and obstacles. It is designed to confuse and distract, and will find and magnify any tendencies towards ADD in even the most organized clinician.  During my 30+ years as a family doc, I’ve come to depend on some core principles and concepts to stay grounded and maintain focus. Here are ten core principles I have found useful, with some comments and exposition.

1. It’s always about the patient

The Reason

Submitted by PeterElias on Wed, 10/26/2011 - 06:00

At the suggestion of a colleague, I submitted one of my blog posts to the FMEC ‘This I believe’ contest. To my surprise, it was selected as an award winner, and this past Sunday, October 22nd, I attended their annual Northeast meeting to read my essay (accompanied by a slide show of my photographs) and receive my award.

Responding to the 'but 99% survive' argument

Submitted by admin on Wed, 02/03/2021 - 06:06
Among the many candidates for arguments against taking action to protect our families, friends, colleagues, neighbors, communities and country from COVID, none make me angrier than the "but 99% survive" gambit. This argument is numerically illiterate (Mark Twain said “It ain't what you don't know that gets you into trouble. It's what you know for sure that just ain't so”), racist, ableist, and inhumane. Let me explain.
 

An Obsession with Metrics

Submitted by PeterElias on Sat, 02/16/2019 - 17:59

I precipitated a recent online discussion about healthcare’s obsession with measurement (quality metrics is the current buzz phrase) when I quoted two aphorisms that highlight some problems with metrics and targets:

Goodhart's Law: "When a measure becomes a target, it ceases to be a good measure,"

Campbell's Law: "The more a metric is used, the more likely it is to "corrupt the process it is intended to monitor."

One comment rubbed me the wrong way because it implied that measurement reduces harm:

Satirical parachutes

Submitted by PeterElias on Sun, 12/23/2018 - 06:00

I’ve always loved satire. The official definition is “…the use of humor, irony, exaggeration, or ridicule to expose and criticize people's stupidity or vices, particularly in the context of contemporary politics and other topical issues.” I like to think of it as weaponized humor. Despite being a target-rich environment, medical writing has far less than its rightful share of good satire. When good medical satire comes around, I enjoy it.