Medical Life

San Diego's sunshine still a magnet for travel nurses

"There's no old buildings. There's no trash anywhere. And the weather..."

When Mariette Parsons, RN, tells her patients she's a traveler, she says they often look puzzled. "They're, like, 'You work for a travel agency or something?'" Parsons explains that travel nurses fill assignments all over ...

Why Your Doctor’s in a Bad Mood

More from the war on medical insurance.

Managed care is forcing patients to get creative. Last year, I got a letter from an internal medicine colleague who practices just a few blocks from me. She and two other women internists took the ...

Malpractice from the Doc’s Point of View

A lawyer’s daughter faints and sues.

WRAPPING UP A FULL WORKDAY AT 9:00 P.M., I PULLED THE LAST COUPLE OF ENVELOPES FROM MY “IN” BOX. THE HEAVY MANILA ONE PIQUED MY INTEREST, SO I OPENED IT. “Notice of Intent to Sue...” ...

Impatient Heart

"I was in Bangkok six years ago and picked up some kind of hepatitis-family virus — they couldn't isolate it — and it infected my heart muscle and left me with cardiomyopathy. So now I'm ...

Irma is allergic to life

House-bound patient finds menace everywhere.

‘I NEED TO HAVE SOME TEETH EXTRACTED.” IRMA ALWAYS SPEAKS AS THOUGH EACH WORD MIGHT CONSUME THE LAST OF HER LIMITED ENERGY. “BUT I’M ALSO HAVING A PROBLEM WITH MY HEART.” Irma has never come ...

I'm not God

Will Greta's baby choose life?

Mt two latex-gloved fingers extended as far into Greta's vagina as they could through the tight rubbery of of her cervix, grazing the firm, smooth, slippery surface of her baby’s lowest part, but I could ...

Environment of Mistrust

Patients get testy.

As I was completing my instructions to a diminutive 70-year-old Filipino gentleman with congestive heart failure, a knock at the door cut me short. “A patient is having a seizure.” Jo, a medical assistant with ...

Eye Doc

Quick and easy corneas

“People are very motivated to take care of their eyes. They’ll do whatever you tell them, so there’s a high compliance rate. And nobody dies. I like having a high prognosis for recovery when I operate.”

I was worried that Fred might never wake up

Author misdiagnoses symptoms of coming heart attack.

“HELLO?” I tried not to sound too tired or annoyed, even though I was answering the phone from my bed and looking forward to ending my day. It was about 10:00 p.m. on a Friday ...

What Happens When a Doctor Makes a Mistake

“She’s contracting every seven minutes and liquid is coming out.” It was a Sunday morning in early March, and I was the doctor on call for family practice and pregnancy-related matters. This call from a ...

Travel Bug

Doctor takes family Dominican Republic and regrets it.

"WAKE UP, HONEY. MOM FELL" It was 2:30 a.m. and the words were coming from my wife Terry. Accustomed to composing myself at any hour, I found myself resistant to doing so now, probably because ...

What is the name for this collection of events?

Was it lupus or gallstones attacking the kidneys?

BUDD, THE PRESIDENT OF OUR MEDICAL GROUP, TOLD ME A FEW WEEKS AGO, “IT IS MY GOAL NEVER TO BECOME AN INTERESTING PATIENT.” I hadn’t seen Sheryl in 19 months when she showed up for ...

Dr. Rodney Hood, in 1973 the first African-American to graduate from UCSD medical school

Protests Union-Tribune story on AIDS and blacks

An aristocratic Frenchman went on a quest to understand democracy in America in 1831. Alexis de Tocqueville went on to write a book in which he extrapolated "the most horrible of civil wars" from the ...

Jim Eichel, UCSD med school alum, asks, Was this my fault?

Pneumonia, then blood clot, then stroke

Was This My Fault? “I THINK SHE HAS PNEUMONIA.” Anne, a nurse-practitioner student to whom I’m teaching outpatient medicine, was right. Flo, a proud, stubborn, wiry, 72-year-old African-American had called me earlier that day hoping ...

UCSD med school grad works on patient's weight loss.

Appetite everywhere

Two years ago, Glenda weighed 342 pounds, and it was clear to me she needed more than advice to exercise and eat right. From the face covered with zits to the ankles swollen with arthritis, ...