Toxic Positivity in Medicine Feature Image

An Underrecognized Epidemic: Toxic Positivity in Medicine

Joshua Russell, MD, MSc, FCUCM, FACEP A colleague, Dr. Mitchell we’ll call him, told me about a PA that he was supervising recently who made a great catch in a patient with a swollen, blue finger: Achenbach syndrome. When the PA presented the presumptive diagnosis, Dr. Mitchell, unfamiliar with the condition, had to Google it before seeing the patient. Our PA was right, though. The patient walked out of clinic, happy to have a benign explanation for her symptoms, the PA beamed with pride at his diagnosis, and Dr. Mitchell …
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Stepping Outside Yourself, Self-Distancing

Stepping Outside Yourself

Joshua Russell, MD, MSc, FACEP Until recently, I’ve had the rare luxury of working in busy urgent care centers where I was virtually always working side-by-side with another provider. However, with changes in my career and UC staffing models in the wake of the pandemic, I find myself working in single coverage situations the majority of the time nowadays. While I do miss the camaraderie of multi-coverage practice, I miss the unfettered access to a second clinician’s brain the most. Have you ever found yourself caring for a patient and …
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Last Hour Problem

The Last Hour Problem

It’s 8 pm and I’m 9 hours into a 10-hour shift when four new patients walk in. Even though I’m feeling drained, I smile warmly as each passes my workstation. I “eyeball” them each as they walk by; my grin persists because they all seem stable and my “TUR” for this shift in the emergency department is now only 45 minutes away. TUR (or “time until relief”) is a metric I continuously track with ruthless precision when working in the ED. After all, it is the most important figure to …
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Unvaccinated Patient scared of vaccine

The Unvaccinated Aren’t the Enemy

Taylor wore her embroidered sorority sweatshirt and a mask below her nose when she came to see me. She was 19 and had just finished her freshman year at the local university. Her story was cliché, as well: cough, runny nose, and sore throat “that wouldn’t go away.” She’d been sick for 8 days and she’d come in to get antibiotics. This isn’t a story about antibiotic stewardship, though. “Have you been tested or vaccinated for COVID?” I asked her after forcing myself to sit mute and listen for the …
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Charting Image

ICYMI: A Rational System for Charting Has Finally Arrived

Remember the fall of last year—when the nation and world pined for an expedient end to 2020, as if such an arbitrary change as turning a page on the calendar could somehow reverse our collective fortune? Unsurprisingly when January 2021 arrived, all our woes were not magically and immediately remedied. In fact, the start of this year was among the most grim in U.S. history: nearly a quarter of a million new cases were being diagnosed and several thousand people were dying every day from COVID-19 in the U.S. alone, …
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