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 [...]

You’re Sick. Whose Fault Is That?

On my pediatrics rotation in medical school, several residents told me they worked with children in part because they sometimes found themselves judging adults: Did they do drugs? Were they fat? [...]

Finding Purpose for a Good Life. But Also a Healthy One.

My favorite medical diagnosis is “failure to thrive.” Not because patients are failing to thrive — that part makes me sad. But because of the diagnosis’s bold proposition: Humans, in their [...]

We’re Bad At Death. Can We Talk?

Her last conversation should not have been with me. I’d just arrived for the night shift in the I.C.U. when her breathing quickened. I didn’t know much about the patient, and the little I did [...]

As a doctor, I see how a lack of health insurance worsens illness and suffering

When I first met my patient, I didn’t know why he’d been vomiting. It turned out to be for the worst reason. He’d been losing weight and energy for months. He’d occasionally seen blood in the [...]

How Social Isolation is Killing Us

My patient and I both knew he was dying. Not the long kind of dying that stretches on for months or years. He would die today. Maybe tomorrow. And if not tomorrow, the next day. Was there someone [...]

What Doctors Can Learn from Looking at Art

It was a welcome change to find my eyes glued not to the endlessly frustrating loop of the Krebs cycle, but instead to a portrait of 19th-century aristocrats in top hats and ball gowns. The [...]

Lessons From the Battlefield

Like anyone living in Boston in the spring of 2013, I remember where I was when I heard that bombs had gone off at the Boston Marathon finish line on Patriots’ Day, April 15. Three people, [...]

Your Doctor’s Party Shouldn’t Matter

Health care may be a political topic, but your relationship with your doctor shouldn’t be. Medicine has long thought of itself as a pure profession: dispassionate, scientific, and unbiased by [...]

Stop Asking the Candidates to Release Their Medical Records

Two of our best presidents were ill. Others died randomly of unpredictable infections. It’s time to move on. Hillary Clinton’s recent pneumonia and Donald Trump’s appearance on Dr. Oz have [...]

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