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Unofficial Prognosis

Unofficial Prognosis


Perceptions and prescriptions of a medical student
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  • Profile

    Ilana Yurkiewicz Ilana Yurkiewicz is a fourth-year student at Harvard Medical School who graduated from Yale University with a B.S. in biology. She was an AAAS Mass Media Fellow, and her work has appeared in the New England Journal of Medicine, Aeon Magazine, Science Progress, The News & Observer, and The Best Science Writing Online 2013. She has an academic interest in bioethics, currently conducting ethics research at Harvard after previously interning at the Presidential Commission for the Study of Bioethical Issues. She is also interested in general internal medicine and quality and systems improvement. Follow on Twitter @ilanayurkiewicz.
  • Reflections of a fourth year medical student

    “We pass through the present with our eyes blindfolded. We are permitted merely to sense and guess at what we are actually experiencing. Only later when the cloth is untied can we glance at the past and find out what we have experienced and what meaning it has.” – Milan Kundera Two weeks ago, I [...]

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    Taking sides

    The page comes from the psychiatry intern on call. “There’s a situation with patient RB on the unit. Please advise.” We gather in the hall outside the patient’s room. There are already three – no, four – security guards standing several feet away with their arms folded. Backup. Ready. Ready for what? We whisper in [...]

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    Disrespect in hospitals isn’t just unpleasant. It’s unsafe.

    Read the full piece here Hospital bullies: they’re a minority, but they’re sizable enough that they can unfortunately set the tone for everyone else. Most health care providers have in their arsenal some juicy tales of mistreatment to tell, but most is far less glamorous. It’s micro-aggressions; and this is what creates a culture. There are [...]

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    Talking shop: when doctors forget to fill in the blanks

    “Ms. M,” the resident says, “I saw in your chart that the last time you had surgery you had a pulmonary embolism.” She nods with recognition: “I felt like I couldn’t breathe. It was really scary.” Then: “I sure don’t want that again.” The resident lifts up the covers and sees that the patient’s calves [...]

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    Because I work in a hospital, I can’t help you

    Had I met her anywhere but the hospital, I would have gone to her side. I would have asked her what was wrong. I would have offered to help. She was 99 years old and about to undergo surgery. Pre-operative holding is generally a busy place. Patients lie in gurneys, spending some last moments with loved [...]

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    But I remember you

    You may not remember me, but when I asked how you were you said “Alive.” A few weeks earlier you were afraid of going under anesthesia and not waking up. They said you’d do great; that this was routine; that we’d see you again soon. Then you coded on the table. I’ve never met someone [...]

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    Watchful waiting

    hospital room

    “This is not normal for him.” A tearful mother pointed to her six-year-old son, lying in the hospital bed. Fevers had been intermittent. He was withdrawn, but not uncommunicative until a few minutes earlier. “My head hurts and my tummy hurts,” he had said before turning away from me and ignoring any further questions. “I [...]

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    From classrooms to hospitals: when medicine doesn’t have all the answers

    I’ll start with this: it’s great to be back. I’ve been on hiatus from blogging for the past few months because of the exam I took last week: the medical boards, or Step 1, an eight hour test that covers all of the first two years of medical school to prepare us for the hospital [...]

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    Modern medical terms are still named after Nazi doctors. Can we change it?

    In 1977, a group of doctors began a campaign to change the name of an inflammatory arthritis after discovering it was named after a Nazi doctor who planned and performed gruesome forced human experimentation that killed thousands. In one of these experiments, for example, Hans Conrad Julius Reiter inoculated Buchenwald concentration camp inmates with the microbe [...]

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    Support for Massachusetts Death with Dignity: what 14 years of data show us

    On Tuesday, Massachusetts voters will face the Death with Dignity Act and decide whether they are comfortable with the idea of a physician being able to provide medication that a terminally ill patient can self-administer to end his or her life. If the act passes, Massachusetts will join Oregon, Washington, and Montana in being one [...]

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