Super sweet soda is way too accessible – Commercial Appeal

I am standing at the kitchen counter and conducting a simple demonstration. In a tall glass of carbonated water, I begin to add teaspoons of sugar. I put in one and then two teaspoons (this is what I add to my tea or coffee). Then I add three and then four teaspoons. I begin to […]

We all need ‘skin’ in Medicare debate – Commercial Appeal

As I approach my 50th birthday, I worry about Medicare not being there for me when I become eligible. I have some inside knowledge about Medicare. My parents and in-laws are patients on Medicare. As a doctor, I am a provider for Medicare, and as a public health educator I am a consultant for a […]

Doctors often struggle to show compassion while dealing with patients – Washington Post

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 […]

Even with malpractice insurance, doctors opt for expensive, defensive medicine – Washington Post

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. . […]

Writers, like physicians, hope to stir improvement – Commercial Appeal

Published: August 16, 2010 A few weeks ago a young woman was admitted to the hospital with a raging fever, excessive urination and back pain. I prescribed an antibiotic for a kidney infection, and over the next several days I watched her improve and go home. As a doctor, I could see the impact that […]

Examining Physicians Part 3: High or low, room to improve – Commercial Appeal

Published: April 27, 2010 I rehearsed my lines as I drove up to an office in Midtown. I was meeting with a doctor who had been rated poorly by his patients. Memphis is one of three cities where Consumers’ Checkbook, a nonprofit national consumer organization, has conducted surveys on what patients say about their doctor. […]

Examining Physicians Part 2: The good doctor: High-scoring Memphis physician practices patient-centered care – Commercial Appeal

Published: April 26, 2010 Dr. John Buttross reached over his office desk to shake my hand. He has a warm smile and a salt-and-pepper mustache. Buttross was rated one of the top primary care doctors in Memphis on a doctor-rating survey recently made public at healthymemphis.org.Read More

Examining physicians: How do you feel? Better choices, care are goals – Commercial Appeal

Published: April 25, 2010  Doctors play a unique role in our lives. They ask us to undress, and then they lay their hands on our bodies. They give us drugs that alter our minds. We trust our doctors as much as we trust our spouses — sometimes more. Read More

Pleasant thoughts can help you sleep – Commercial Appeal

Published: March 08, 2010 At 9 p.m. most nights, I put my reluctant 10-year-old son to bed. He frets and frowns, saying “I can’t sleep when I am alone,” but readily agrees when I offer to stay. Read More

For Doctors, Rationing Care Is Standard Practice – Washington Post

Published: August 04, 2009 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 […]

Doctors Can Be Doubters – Washington Post

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. A […]

Patients and Family are Part of the Healthcare Team – Shelby Sun

Few weeks ago my wife, also a physician, and I attended a medical seminar on teamwork. A Navy pilot, Steve Harden, was teaching us teamwork skills from the aviation industry so that we could reduce medical errors in the healthcare setting. The hotel ballroom was packed with 400 doctors with 10 doctors at each round […]

Covering my Behind – Shelby Sun

It is not the calls from patients or the hospitals that keep doctors awake at night, but it is the risk of a potential malpractice lawsuit. Nearly 1 in 2 doctors has been sued. Nearly, 3 of 4 doctors in practice for more than 10 years have been sued. Almost all the cardiac surgeons in […]

Disease management program – a new strategy – Shelby Sun

Last Thursday I along with 20 other physicians met with Governor Bredeson for over an hour and a half. He was selling his TennCare reforms. Most of us listened. Some of us praised him. Some griped and others gave him new ideas, which he jotted down. Most obviously, Tenncare will undergo major structural changes by […]