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‘Then I Donned My Bouffant Cap’: What We Heard This Year

In place of our usual “What We Heard This Week” feature, and as part of our year-end wrap-ups, we’ve selected some of the best quotes our reporters heard in 2018.


“President Trump may be onto something here.” — William T. Abraham, MD, of Ohio State University, on Trump’s preference for a lifestyle intervention that emphasizes diet over exercise.

“To get a good image of the bowel, you have to drink a lot of contrast, and the standard barium contrast doesn’t taste good.” — Leonard Haas, MD, of the Mayo Clinic, discussing his group’s study of flavorings to make contrast more palatable.


“The biggest change in EMS has been the loss of ‘it can’t happen here’ to ‘let’s be ready when it happens.'” — Corey Slovis, MD, of Vanderbilt University Medical Center, talking about how mass shootings have triggered changes for emergency medicine.

“No surgeon is going to casually say, ‘And then I donned my bouffant cap.'” — An anonymous healthcare worker on how she became suspicious of an online acquaintance claiming to be a surgical resident.


“Who wants to be running on a treadmill in a gown, half naked, with doctors watching you?” — Waseem Shami, MD, of Texas Tech University, discussing his study suggesting that up-tempo music can get patients to run longer on the treadmill.

“Why does no one do this? Because there is no CPT code for ‘Teach Patient to Ride the Bus.'” — Rushika Fernandopulle, MD, MPP, CEO of Iora in Boston, discussing the lack of support for population health issues.


“It’s like the early days of VCRs — Betamax or VHS — more than 100 times over, or 100 times worse.” — Hans Duvefelt, MD, on the lack of EMR interoperability.

“Do you think all the warnings we read, hear, and trip over are issued to protect us, or the companies and organizations that issue them?” — Michael Kirsch, MD, making the case that many EMR notifications and other electronic alerts in daily life are hyperbolic, even spurious.


“The amount of spending by those U.S. citizens in foreign destinations is a pimple on a duck’s butt.” — Irving Stackpole, president of Stackpole & Associates of Newport, Rhode Island, on the overinflated numbers cited for U.S. patients traveling out of the country for medical care.

“Ask patients if they really understand what’s being offered before they throw away their own money, and other people’s money, on something that isn’t valid.” — Arthur Caplan, PhD, of NYU Langone Medical Center in New York City, on crowd-funding for unproven medical treatments.


“Forgive me if I’m a little bit jaded with believing that hospital administrations will always do the right thing.” — James Strebig, MD, a California internist at the AMA House of Delegates meeting, suggesting the medical staff, not hospital administration, should conduct surveys on burnout.

“I’m not sure I know what to eat.” — Former FDA commissioner David Kessler, MD, making the point about the need for better answers to basic nutrition questions to help everyone become more educated about diet.


“Everyone is worried about what happened to Trump’s brain, but no one seems to be particularly worried about what’s happening to ours.” — Robert Lustig, MD, on neurological mechanisms underlying people’s responses to the president’s emotion-laden rhetoric.

“It’s not all about the genitalia.” — Joshua Safer, MD, of the Mount Sinai Center for Transgender Medicine and Surgery in New York City, on provider assumptions that “sex-change” operations are at the core of gender reassignment.


“We have a public health crisis that is leaving people unable to afford the medicines they need — in most cases to stay alive.” — Nevada state senator Yvanna Cancela (D-Clark County), on the state’s efforts to ease the cost of drugs.

“These policies are not going to be worth the paper they’re written on.” — Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore), at a Senate Finance Committee briefing on short-term health insurance policies.


“The president was absolutely adamant; we are not going to screw the beneficiary, which is frequently the default option in Medicare.” — Joseph Grogan, JD, associate director of health programs at the Office of Management and Budget, discussing his agency’s approach to cost-cutting in the Medicare program.

“Our biggest increase in bad debt is among people who have insurance.” — Alan Levine, president and CEO of Ballad Health in Johnson City, Tennessee, at a roundtable convened by the Senate Subcommittee on Primary Health and Retirement Security.


“We’re not taking conflict of interest seriously; it’s a slap-dash affair right now.” — Art Caplan, PhD, of NYU Langone Medical Center in New York City, on calls for the development of a conflict-of-interest database for medical researchers.

“I did not feel that we had to punish the patient and make her go away. That would not change anything as far as her perception of men of color.” — Gary LeRoy, MD, American Academy of Family Physicians president-elect, on experiencing racism as an African-American doctor.


“We cannot point fingers at others if our own house is not in order.” — American Medical Association (AMA) president Barbara McAneny, MD, at the AMA’s interim meeting, speaking about sexual harassment within the medical profession.

“The NRA swerved into our lane in 1996 by pushing the Dickey Amendment to limit gun-control research. They lobbied for a Florida physician gag law that restricted doctors from talking to their patients about gun safety.” — Forensic pathologist Judy Melinek, MD, responding to the National Rifle Association’s infamous tweet telling physicians to “stay in their lane.”


“It will not solve the larger issue: it is still socially acceptable to hit a child to correct their behavior.” — Antoinette Laskey, MD, of the University of Utah in Salt Lake City, discussing a study that spotted a connection between report card release dates and physical abuse, and whether changing the report card release date would do anything.

“You can find out more information about whether your toaster is bad than whether your physician is a hatchet. It’s just nuts.” — Robert Oshel, a former official at the National Practitioner Data Bank, describing all the ways the system can be gamed.


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