Monthly Archives: February 2010

Senator Lautenberg

I don’t normally comment on cancer diagnoses in notable people, but the announcement today that Senator Frank Lautenberg of New Jersey has been diagnosed with “stomach cancer” raises several issues that I think are worthy of discussion.

First and foremost, our thoughts and prayers are with the Senator, as they should be for every patient who receives a diagnosis of cancer.  He is obviously a remarkable man, accomplished in business and politics, and someone who has remained active well into his ninth decade.

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As with anyone who is famous, there are those who—with little information—make grand pronouncements about someone else’s illness and occasionally their prognosis.  The reality is that we never have all of the information, and much of the commentary is reduced to speculation.

As has been the situation with others—such as the late Senator Kennedy and Patrick Swayze—it is up to the patient, their family and their medical team to determine how much information they wish to share with the public.  And—although I know that this is frequently not the case—it is up to us to allow them the privacy of the moment as they deal with what is obviously a serious illness.

But … Continue reading →

New Research Report Doesn’t Tell The Whole Story

An article published today in the journal Cancer claims that Medicare “incentivized” urologists to do more surgery in their office, and the net result was a significant increase in medical costs for doing the procedures, compared to doing them in hospital facilities.

But, just as in all research, it’s important to get the data and the facts correct.  And when you do that for this article, you may just not come to the same conclusions.  In fact, the conclusions may be so different that one might ask whether the authors need to go back to the drawing board and update their report.

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The premise of the article is that in 2005, Medicare wanted to incentivize doctors to move more urology procedures to the theoretically less costly office setting instead of the more expensive hospital, hospital outpatient facility, or in an ambulatory care center.  To do this—the authors claim–Medicare paid doctors more for the same procedures starting in 2005 than they had in 2004 and previously.

The researchers looked very carefully at billing data from their own academic practice at New York University to determine whether or not this “incentive” made a difference in the behaviors of … Continue reading →

Groundhog Day Diet: Will Your Shadow Be Smaller?

It’s Groundhog Day, so maybe this is a good time to offer a quick recap of my progress on what I call my “Groundhog Day Diet.” 

The “Groundhog Day Diet” is my name for the program I started four weeks ago to lose the same weight I lose and regain every year, hoping that maybe—just maybe—this year will be different.  (The diet is fondly named after the movie Groundhog Day which starred Bill Murray, where he repeated the same day, day after day after day.)

The only reason I am bothering you with this is the knowledge that I am not alone.  Many of you out there go through the same ritual every year.  And, if you are like me, four weeks into the process is about when you think it’s time for a splurge or have some other event(s) come up in your life that leads you astray, like this Sunday’s Super Bowl.

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I am here today to give you and me permission to assess our success or failure, and motor on.

So what are the results?  I guess it’s a good news/bad news sort of story: I lost 20 pounds … Continue reading →