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Think a Patient Has Rights? They Left.

Patient Rights

by Dr. Michael Miller

There are few absolutes in my universe. I know that my youngest daughter will gleefully and with full malice (but humorously presented) find something to torment me about every time I see her; referrals from family practice docs arrive well marinated in multiple antibiotics with nary a diagnosis in sight (save for the ubiquitous “infection”); and that regardless of what I recommend, offer, beg, plead, or cajole, that the patient has the complete and total power to make their decisions regarding their care and who provides it. Unless they are deemed by multiple authorities to be incapable of making a decision, until the appropriate paperwork or an emergency situation exists mandating immediate lifesaving action, the ball bounces squarely in their court…or so I thought. (more…)

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Jim Nabors Would Just Cry

jim nabors

by Dr. Michael Miller

For those of you not as familiar with the Hoosier State as you should be, I used to think it was essentially paradise. Jim Nabors of Gomer Pyle fame is our ubiquitous, tuneful icon with his always well-received “Back Home in Indiana” as a mantra to that source of pride.  Our former Governor “My Man” Mitch Daniels was a genius who, using a combination of intelligence, common sense and the persuasive powers of a midwest Svengali, created an economic model that our neighbors can only lust after. Our medicolegal climate is among the best in the US and well it should be. However, while there are some extraordinary caregivers and facilities here, a recent US News and World Report curiously showed that almost none of our hospitals made their “Best of” lists in any category. That is not to say there is bad care but to not have a single facility in an entire state even achieve an honorable mention gives one pause to reflect. The State newspapers were notoriously quiet on this concerning fact despite their trumpeting of who does what well, when and where. (more…)

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Hole-ier than Thou, Evidence Based Regardless of the Evidence

evidence based medicine

by Dr. Michael Miller

There are certain phrases that make the hair on the back of my neck stand up.  Someone telling me that they are a good Jew, a good Christian, a good Muslim or the ultimate in self serving lies, “I ONLY practice EVIDENCE BASED MEDICINE”.  People who are what they claim they are do not need to announce it.  A short conversation, watching them work, others opinions about them all answer the question before it is asked.  Like the RN who asked for a recent presentation on the true science behind NPWT (no, you don’t really understand it).  She made sure to tell me not only that she practiced only EVIDENCE BASED MEDICINE but then gave me several examples which incidentally had absolutely no scientific evidence (save for articles from lots of dabblers doing lots of crazy things to people and writing about them).  I am now awaiting her response as she may have to realize that her version of EVIDENCE BASED is no more real than Kim Kardashian’s celebrity. (more…)

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If All You Have is a Hammer, What Happens When You Run Out of Nails?

hammer

by Dr. Michael Miller

Over the years of making house calls for wound care, I found that there was a real need for home based mental health and behavioral care, palliative care, podiatry and lots of other things. We cater to those who are home bound based on the classic definition involving the word “Taxing”. One of the more prevalent problems affecting all patients involves the nebulous but ubiquitous, nerve jangling, aptly named, “5th Vital Sign”, namely pain. As a part of my medical group, we have created a program that provides pain management not just to the home bound but all those whose lives and lifestyles are affected adversely by it. The program is a monument to government bureaucracy involving multiple layers of paperwork, mental health evaluations, testing of bodily fluids for both illegal and legal substances and then, the actual evaluation of the patient commences. After all hurdles are vetted and then jumped, then and only then does a prescription for the appropriate nostrum leave the pad. In wound care, we treat based on the etiology, the location, the related factors, the amounts of drainage, the surrounding tissues and so on, ad nauseum. Not surprisingly, in pain management, the scenario is much different. In wound care the mantra of the dabbler is see the hole, fill the hole. In pain management, the goal is to minimize pain to maximize functionality but the overriding questions are how this is accomplished. (more…)

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Condemning Patients to a Leap of Faith

leap of faith

by Dr. Michael Miller

I have several letters after my name.  The two that say “DO” indicate that I have the training of a physician and the requisite education and responsibilities that uphold those letters.  They should mean to patients that my ultimate goal is to offer (and provide when the fates allow) the entire spectrum of medical care referable to what I am good at and what they came to seek solace for.  Nothing less and if I keep my ego in check, certainly nothing more. Patients run the gamut of their perception of the medical field.  But like the old sales nemesis called “Bait and Switch”, what is offered on the sign all too often does not truly match what is seen on the shelves.  Arrogant people are that way because they are good at what they do and not afraid to tell others.  As a child, we are told to let others brag about us but failing to let people know what we can and can’t do is integral to our patients’ survival and our success.  The problem is that the glitz and glamour of being a healer all too often clouds our success.  Some time ago, I blogged about the pseudo-utilitarianism of all those so-called “Wound Certification” Exams.  At first blush, these seem to be the key to health, wealth, omniscience and outcomes equaled only by those wound care management companies. (more…)

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Don’t Kid Yourself, Amputation Is Unquestionably A Failure

amputation is a failure

by Dr. Michael Miller

I recently saw an ad for a pending lecture at a national conference that piqued my interest much like “deflate-gate”.  The title of this lecture horrifically touted that Amputation need not be considered failure.  As a full time wound care doc, I work to identify those conditions that place patients at risk of all consequences both limited and catastrophic.  We use the catchy title of “Limb Preservation”.  We start the process by engaging in the unusual behavior of making definitive diagnoses, then systematically address them in as comprehensive manner as possible.  I am proud to tell you that while there are occasions in which a terminally damaged digit is lost,  that we have rarely sacrificed the greater part of a foot and more, have had only 3 lower extremity amputations in the last 5 years on patients who’s care remained exclusively with us.  Of course, when a patient for whom we have created and implemented a “Limb Pres” care plan is taken out of our system (usually via a hospitalization for a reason other then the lower extremity problem), the facility forces that be unfortunately but infrequently demonstrate their inadequacy and paranoia by gang-harangueing the patient and family.  They are lambasted with lurid tales of the condition marching up the leg engulfing the foot, knee, torso, and brains much like a flesh-eating PacMan.   The patient’s confidence now neutered has little chance against this persistent onslaught of inadequacy and so, much like the Queen song, “Another One Bites The Dust”. (more…)

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Help Me, Help Me, Help Me…next Tuesday

physicians

by Dr. Michael Miller

Health care providers are by nature an altruistic bunch.  I have the honor of interviewing potential entries to my beloved profession as part of the admissions process at the newest Osteopathic Medical School in Indiana, Marian University.  The process is unique in that it does not simply ask the age old questions of “Why you want to be a physician ?”, (“Because I want to do primary care in a rural area”).  No, our probing involves scenarios in which they have to look at a social situation, identify their thoughts, those of the opposing views and then cohesively demonstrate intelligence, confidence, logical thought processes and humanity…all in an 8 minute period repeated 7 times.  Their responses juxtaposed against what I see in my day to day always gives me pause to think about how the practice of medicine has been so perverted by the promotion of self abdication of responsibility.  The “let your government do it for you” mantras and newest politically correct definitions of disabled (encompassing everything from melancholia to dislike of red M and M’s) have resulted in a major paradigm shift in medicine.  Whereas, the hospitals once touted their ability to heal all manner of maladies, they now recognize their cost ineffectiveness, more detrimental than beneficial care (just check the nutritional parameters of anyone pre and post hospitalization) and the downright danger of going to one, unless you are a burgeoning superbug. (more…)

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Alternate universes – Einstein’s insanity

Wound Care

I remain absolutely amazed that there are so many people doing the same thing and yet doing it so completely different. Depending on where a patient’s wound care and orders originate from, the care I try to translate from that starting point is always a combination of dressing regimens worthy of computer code in their simplicity. The only thing usually missing is the diagnosis. It’s as though they come from an identical planet in an alternate universe.

The issue is that there is the complete dissociation of what is done for a given wound care problem in one practice setting versus another. Having stayed as far away from hospital-based wound care as possible, I continue to be amazed by hospital wound teams touting their expertise while using two to three times a day dressing changes and therapies that are the antithesis of any identifiable evidence. They actually expect entities receiving their cases (including home healthcare agencies, LTAC, skilled facilities, and others) to copy the identical care scenario regardless of their widely variable situations. In fact, the only constant is the patient and his or her condition. (more…)

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