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Dr. Manoj Jain
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Washington Post Articles

‘Lincoln’ rekindles equalitynew
Published: December 10, 2012
by Dr. Manoj Jain

On Thanksgiving weekend, with family and friends, I watched Steven Spielberg’s masterpiece “Lincoln.” It was a history lesson on racial inequality. Abraham Lincoln championed the 13th Amendment, abolishing slavery, paving the way for the 15th Amendment in 1869, giving African Americans and other racial minorities the right to vote. The movie also hinted at gender inequality, when nearly all the members of the House of Representatives stood up in protest when one Congressman mentioned that one-day women might be given the right to vote. patientsRead More

Wisdoms for Obama on Diwali
Published: NOvember 15, 2012
by Dr. Manoj Jain

Last year, with President Obama and this year with Vice President Joe Biden, I had the privilege to celebrate the festival of Diwali at the White House. Similarly, over a billion Hindus, Jains and Sikhs all over the world, 2 million of them in America, and one, astronaut Sunita Williams, in outer space celebrated this auspicious holiday. It is a tribute to the greatness of America’s leaders that festivals of minority faiths are so well respected. patientsRead More

Disparity in pay divides doctors
Published: October 23, 2012
by Dr. Manoj Jain

Recently, a medical student confided in me a thought that few in our profession would dare say aloud: “We may have come to medical school to help people, but we choose our specialty careers based on potential salaries.” patientsRead More

What we can learn from Wade Michael Page: Being mindful of thoughts, speech and actions
Published: August 09, 2012
by Dr. Manoj Jain

Tuesday night I sat with my children at the Sikh temple in Memphis and wondered what triggered Wade Michael Page to kill six people at the Sikh temple in Oak Creek, Wis.. Though no one will know for sure, this much seems certain: Page had seeds of white supremacism planted in his mind for decades.

I also wondered what I could do to avert future massacres. For this I reached back to my faith.patientsRead More

When patients demand tests and prescriptions, doctors should think twice
Published: July 03, 2012
by Dr. Manoj Jain

As an infectious-disease specialist, I often see patients who complain of a headache, nasal congestion and short-term fatigue. There is no fever or cough, and it appears the problem is sinusitis, which requires no further testing or treatment. But when I say, “Let’s wait and watch,” many of my patients seem disappointed. In some cases, it seems they are satisfied only if I prescribe an antibiotic or order a blood test or X-ray.patientsRead More

Doctors in private practices are now joining hospital staffs
Published: March 13, 2012
by Dr. Manoj Jain

Fifteen years ago, I proudly hung a sign outside my office with my name followed by “MD.” I had started my own business.

A small private medical practice is much like a mom-and-pop store, where the doctor has the autonomy to decide the hours, which insurance to accept, which patients to see and how much to charge.patientsRead More

When terminally ill patients ask how long they have, doctors find it hard to say
Published: December 20, 2011
by Dr. Manoj Jain

In January, when my close friend’s lymph node biopsy came back as a rare form of T-cell lymphoma, I scoured the scientific literature. What was his prognosis?

He was 56, a little overweight but otherwise healthy. He had helped us move into our home more than a decade ago, and I was like an uncle to his son and daughter.patientsRead More

False positives show need to adjust expectations for cancer screening tests
Published: November 01, 2011
by Dr. Manoj Jain

Several years ago, during an annual mammogram, my wife, who is in her 40s, was told a mass had been found in one of her breasts. Anxious and uncertain, she had a biopsy, and we braced for the worst. patientsRead More

Diwali at the White House
Published: November 01, 2011
by Dr. Manoj Jain

Thursday evening my teenage daughter asked me to help her review for an AP U.S. Government exam on the Bill of Rights. That she was studying the first amendment and the freedom of religion seemed fortuitous: the following morning I was to board an early morning flight from our home in Memphis, Tennessee, to Washington to celebrate the festival of Diwali at the White House with the president of the United States. patientsRead More

Accepting death is difficult for patients and doctors, but it needs to be done
Published: October 18, 2011
by Dr. Manoj Jain

My 64-year-old patient with terminal cancer and less than six months to live wanted to go to Oregon. He was contemplating assisted suicide, which is legal there. “My life has been long and good,” he said. “I believe it is my right. I want the ability to say it’s too much, I can’t do it anymore. A person should have a dignified quality of life.” patientsRead More

Intensive care units grow more friendly to patients’ families at some hospitals
Published: August 30, 2011
by Dr. Manoj Jain

Not long ago, when my father was about to undergo a heart procedure, I hinted to the cardiologist, a colleague, that I wanted to be there, too, not just to offer comfort but also to be present for the play-by-play that would lead to a critical decision: whether to open his blocked arteries with a stent or to perform bypass surgery. Draped in an X-ray-shielding body suit over his blue scrubs, the doctor hesitated. patientsRead More

Doctors often struggle to show compassion while dealing with patients
Published: May 17, 2011
by Dr. Manoj Jain

I was standing at my patient's bedside. Mike Venata was having chills with a temperature of 103. Sweat covered his balding scalp like dew, then coalesced and rolled down past his staring eyes.

Just 20 minutes earlier, a specialist had informed him that he had metastatic pancreatic cancer and could expect to live less than six months. He was alone. I’d seen him once before; as an infectious-disease specialist, I’d been called in because his fever might be due to an underlying infection.

I wondered: How do I show him compassion? patientsRead More

Medical tourism draws growing numbers of Americans to seek health care abroad
Published: April 04, 2011
by Dr. Manoj Jain

When my father had a toothache, he saw a dentist in Boston who recommended a root canal and dental crown costing about $2,000. He decided to wait until he was in India, his native land, for holidays and had the procedure done there for $200. Extremely satisfied with the service and the price, my mother decided to have her two front teeth replaced, eliminating a wide gap that tarnished her smile, and estimated she had saved $3,000. patientsRead More

Hospitals' focus on patient safety hasn't eliminated preventable deaths
Published: December 20, 2010
by Dr. Manoj Jain

Some years ago, I got a call at 3 a.m. from the hospital because a patient of mine had spiked a high fever. Suspecting an infection, I called in some antibiotics. A few hours later, a frantic nurse called to say my patient had turned red and was wheezing, likely from an allergic reaction. patientsRead More

More rules are needed to curb drug firms' attempts to influence physicians
Published: November 15, 2010
by Dr. Manoj Jain

Nearly a decade ago when I was newly settled into private practice in Memphis, a drug representative for a new and powerful antibiotic stood in my office and asked whether I would like to attend a consultants' meeting about the drug in Washington. patientsRead More

Even with malpractice insurance, doctors opt for expensive, defensive medicine
Published: August 31, 2010
by Dr. Manoj Jain

Some months ago, the receptionist in my clinic handed me a registered letter. The name of the sender seemed familiar. "Dear Sir," the letter read. "Please be advised that this letter serves as official notice that I am considering a potential claim against you in a medical Malpractice claim in regard to my husband. . . ." I stood, stunned. My white coat, which held the daily tools of my profession -- my list of patients, the Sanford antibiotic manual, a black stethoscope -- felt extraordinarily heavy. patientsRead More

Bundled payments might cut hospital costs without reducing quality of care
Published: March 09, 2010
by Dr. Manoj Jain

A decade and a half ago, when I started my solo practice, I would say to my routine HIV patients, "Let's see you back in three months." I was eager to fill clinic slots; also, because of my lack of experience, I felt safer seeing my patients more often. patientsRead More

Misery Loves Company, but . . . With Swine Flu Returning, Families Can Reduce Risk of Transmission
Published: September 08, 2009
by Dr. Manoj Jain

Last winter, a few months before the first outbreak of H1N1 flu, my 13-year-old became ill, first with a cough and runny nose, and then with low-grade fever and nasal congestion. It was not severe enough to have her miss school, but we had her skip indoor soccer practice. A week later her older sister, who shares her room, had the same constellation of symptoms; then my wife and my youngest son. Over a three-week period I carefully tracked the passage of the virus within the family. patientsRead More

For Doctors, Rationing Care Is Standard Practice
Published: August 04, 2009
by Dr. Manoj Jain

A seasoned pulmonologist shakes his head. "Let's face it, we already ration care." And, pausing ever so slightly, he begins his story. "This family of an 80-year-old gentleman came to me a few days after he was admitted into the ICU. He had end-stage emphysema. 'We had a family conference last night,' they told me, 'and we have decided that we want our father to have a lung transplant.' " The doctor shakes his head again. "They were dead serious," he says. "I took them aside and tried to explain the situation: He is 80 years old and a smoker. He can't get a lung transplant." patientsRead More

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Even 'Snake Oil' Can Help Patients Heal
Published: March 17, 2009
by Dr. Manoj Jain

"Our conference was being held over lunch, but Pat, a middle-aged health-care consultant, did not touch a bite of her food. When I asked if something was wrong, she revealed her lifelong battle with Crohn's disease, an inflammation of the bowels that causes diarrhea and abdominal pain.

I asked what her doctor advised. With some hesitation, she told me she was chiefly being treated by someone she called her "teacher," who helped her use her use qi gong, a Chinese system of breathing and energy exercise, to manage her illness. patientsRead More

Want to Live a Bit Longer? Speak Up.
Published: February 17, 2009
by Dr. Manoj Jain

"Did you know that women live longer than men?" I asked my wife.

Of course she did -- and not just because, like me, she is a physician. Anybody who walks into a nursing home can see the imbalance. Most people's grandmothers outlive their grandfathers, and 85 percent of centenarians are women. So my wife nodded, without paying much attention. patientsRead More

A Skeptic Becomes A True Believer
Published: February 10, 2009
by Dr. Manoj Jain

I was skeptical when my hospital embarked several years ago on an initiative to reduce the number of hospital-acquired infections in our intensive care unit.

These are infections that originate from the tubes and catheters inserted into the body -- for example, ventilator-associated pneumonia, related to a tube lodged in the windpipe to assist in breathing; urinary tract infection, related to a catheter inserted into the bladder to drain the urine; and bloodstream infection, related to a catheter threaded in the veins reaching the upper chamber of the heart. patientsRead More

Once Detected, HIV Can Be Manageable
Published: December 09, 2008
by Dr. Manoj Jain

Ten years ago, an intelligent, reserved software engineer -- a woman with the complexion of Halle Berry and the physique of a marathoner -- came to my infectious-disease clinic, accompanied by her fiance.

They'd been referred to me a few weeks after a rash and pneumonia prompted a clinic doctor to test the woman for HIV. The test came back positive. Her fiance, tested later, was HIV-negative. patientsRead More

Patients Can Join the Fight Against Flu Without Firing a Shot
Published: November 25, 2008
by Dr. Manoj Jain

Last month at a luncheon marking International Infection Prevention Week at the National Press Club, some speakers reminded me of a shameful and frightening statistic: Almost 60 percent of American health-care workers do not receive the flu vaccine.

Let me put that in context: Influenza, commonly called the flu, strikes 5 to 20 percent of Americans annually. In an average year, more than 200,000 people are hospitalized with flu complications; nearly 36,000 die, either from the flu itself or from complications such as pneumonia or a heart attack. patientsRead More

Elective Surgery Is One Thing, Elective Politics Another
Why the Presidential Race Should Skirt The Doctor's Office
Published: October 28, 2008
by Dr. Manoj Jain

A few weeks ago, as I was making rounds on the oncology floor, one of my patients asked, out of the blue, "Hey, Doc, who you gonna vote for?"

I would have expected this patient to have other questions on his mind. He's a 32-year-old writer whose leukemia had failed to remit after two rounds of chemotherapy. Now a third, more powerful regimen had dropped his white blood cell count to near zero, making him vulnerable to life-threatening infections. patientsRead More

Equal Treatment for the Uninsured? Don't Count on It.
Lack of Compensation Can Tempt Doctors to Tailor Their Care to a Patient's Coverage
Published: October 14, 2008
by Dr. Manoj Jain

When I walked into the hospital room of a 19-year-old woman, a foul smell all but overwhelmed me. I called a nurse to assist me and saw her, too, catch her breath.When we examined the young woman we found a chronic infection of her pelvis so painful that she resisted our slightest touch. patientsRead More


Hospital Clash Puts Patients in the Middle
Published: September 16, 2008
by Dr. Manoj Jain

From the patient's point of view, doctors and hospital officials can seem to be a monolithic medical power structure. But in fact, physicians and administrators often do not see eye to eye. patientsRead More


Hand Washing: Time Well Spent
We Need Carrots and Sticks to Reduce Infection Rates
Published: August 05, 2008
by Dr. Manoj Jain

One morning on hospital rounds, I saw a physician colleague enter the intensive care unit where a patient lay intubated and sedated. With his hands unwashed and ungloved, the physician palpated the patient's abdomen, scratched his own head and then placed his stethoscope on the patient's chest to listen to his heart. Then he walked to the nurses station, rubbed his nose and entered a note in the patient's chart. patientsRead More


Family Adjusts to Rules of the Road
Published: July 15, 2008
by Dr. Manoj Jain

Last summer, my oldest daughter, Sapna, passed a multiple-choice driver's exam, secured a learner's permit and asked to sit in the driver's seat. This was a source of concern for me. As an epidemiologist, it is my job to look at incidence and prevalence of disease in large populations and suggest ways to keep people healthy and safe. I know that motor vehicle crashes are the leading cause of teenage death, accounting for more than a third of the fatalities in this age group. patientsRead More

Doctors Can Be Doubters
Published: June 10, 2008
by Dr. Manoj Jain

My patient is an elderly man with end-stage congestive heart failure, kidney failure and now an infected dialysis line, and he is unlikely to live more than six months. The Bible lies on his bedside table next to his hospital breakfast tray and the morning newspaper. I wonder if I should pray with him. patientsRead More

A Doctor's Viewpoint Changes When the Patient Is His Father
Published: April 15, 2008
by Dr. Manoj Jain

Each morning as I head for my morning rounds, I routinely hurry through the hallway alongside the cardiac catheterization lab not noticing what goes on inside. But, this morning it was different. On the table, under the x-ray beams, with a catheter tunneled into the arteries of his heart was my father. patientsRead More

Honestly, I Could Not Help Him
Patient's Routine Visit Becomes An Ethical Challenge for a Doctor
Published: March 04, 2008
by Dr. Manoj Jain

My patient had come for a routine doctor visit. He was a well-built, soft-spoken middle-aged man who was always polite, respectful and adhered meticulously to his HIV medication. He complained only if he was in a great deal of pain or discomfort.

As usual, I asked him about his family: three adopted children. Over the years that I had known him, the children had grown to adults and had left home. One had secured a job, the second was in college, and the third had just joined the Marines. We talked about his work; he sorted packages at a warehouse. We chatted about the weather and then turned to his health. patientsRead More

How I Learned to Treat My Bias
Published: April 15, 2007
by Dr. Manoj Jain

At our hospital in Tennessee not long ago, I saw my picture on the hallway message board alongside those of other doctors in a display thanking us for our service. My Asian-Indian complexion set me apart -- it's something that I am rarely conscious about in everyday life. It got me thinking: When I walk into the room, do my patients see me as a foreigner?

Then I wondered: When I walk into a room, how do I see my patients? patientsRead More

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