Wednesday, August 3, 2016
Listening to our patients
Around 30 years ago, LRZ taught me a most important lesson. LRZ, one of my most fondly remembered patients, was a classic blue collar guy. He had a wonderful gregarious personality. He had significant systolic dysfunction, yet still worked hard for the city. Among other things he did, he shoveled the salt into trucks on snow and ice days. He functioned well most days.
One day he came to see me. In those days, prior to ACE inhibitors or the use of beta blockers, we focused on digoxin and diuretics. As I picked up his chart I noted that he had gained 3 pounds. From past experience, I knew that he would soon have progressive symptoms.
I examined him and noted bibasilar rales. This occurred on a Monday, and I had more opportunities to see him that week. He told me that his fusosemide (Lasix) was not working as well as usual. So I assumed diuretic resistance, and planned to give him a dose of metolazone (5mg) in addition to the furosemide. As we went over the plan, he paid attention. I planned to bring him back in two days to check his weight, his lungs and his potassium. (For current trainees, in the absence of ACE inhibitors or ARBs, we saw much more hypokalemia, and the combination of a loop diuretic and thiazide both produced massive diuresis and significant hypokalemia, very dangerous given the doses of digoxin we used in those days).
After laying out the plan, and making certain that LRZ understood, I got ready to leave the room. As I reached for the door handle, LRZ stopped me. ”Doc, thanks for everything, but I came in because of my right shoulder pain. I hurt it shoveling.”
I examined him, and made a clinical diagnosis of tendonitis. Then I asked the most important question. What are you taking for your shoulder pain. LRZ responded, “Aleve”.
And then I understood, Diuretic Resistance and Strategies to Overcome Resistance in Patients With Congestive Heart Failure.
Drug-drug interactions have been associated with diuretic failure and, ultimately, resistance. Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory agents (NSAIDs) may alter renal hemodynamics by decreasing renal blood flow. In severe heart failure, prostaglandins play an important role in renal perfusion. Prostaglandins promote sodium and water excretion, and prostaglandin inhibition with aspirin or other NSAIDs has been shown to attenuate diuretic efficacy. Hall noted an impressive reduction in diuretic requirements when daily administration of as small a dose as 100 mg of aspirin was stopped.
So we stopped the Aleve and helped him return to his desired weight.
LRZ reinforced the importance of listening to the patient before we develop our plans. How often do we learn more from listening to our patients than barreling forward with our agenda? Listening takes a bit of time, but it really saves time. As a physician, we work to help our patients, therefore we must understand their concerns, their issues, and their plans.
LRZ taught me to listen to the patient before developing our plan and before pontificating. LRZ helped me become more patient centered. Rest in peace LRZ.
db is the nickname for Robert M. Centor, MD, FACP. db stands both for Dr. Bob and da boss. He is an academic general internist at the University of Alabama School of Medicine, and is the Regional Associate Dean for the Huntsville Regional Medical Campus of UASOM. He still makes inpatient rounds over 100 days each year. This post originally appeared at his blog, db's Medical Rants.
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Amanda Xi, ACP Medical Student Member, is a first-year medical student at the OUWB School of Medicine, charter class of 2015, in Rochester, Mich., from which she which chronicles her journey through medical training from day 1 of medical school.
Ira S. Nash, MD, FACP, is the senior vice president and executive director of the North Shore-LIJ Medical Group, and a professor of Cardiology and Population Health at Hofstra North Shore-LIJ School of Medicine. He is Board Certified in Internal Medicine and Cardiovascular Diseases and was in the private practice of cardiology before joining the full-time faculty of Massachusetts General Hospital.
Zackary Berger, MD, ACP Member, is a primary care doctor and general internist in the Division of General Internal Medicine at Johns Hopkins. His research interests include doctor-patient communication, bioethics, and systematic reviews.
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Run by three ACP Fellows, this blog ponders vexing issues in infection prevention and control, inside and outside the hospital. Daniel J Diekema, MD, FACP, practices infectious diseases, clinical microbiology, and hospital epidemiology in Iowa City, Iowa, splitting time between seeing patients with infectious diseases, diagnosing infections in the microbiology laboratory, and trying to prevent infections in the hospital. Michael B. Edmond, MD, FACP, is a hospital epidemiologist in Iowa City, IA, with a focus on understanding why infections occur in the hospital and ways to prevent these infections, and sees patients in the inpatient and outpatient settings. Eli N. Perencevich, MD, ACP Member, is an infectious disease physician and epidemiologist in Iowa City, Iowa, who studies methods to halt the spread of resistant bacteria in our hospitals (including novel ways to get everyone to wash their hands).
db's Medical Rants
Robert M. Centor, MD, FACP, contributes short essays contemplating medicine and the health care system.
Suneel Dhand, MD, ACP Member
Suneel Dhand, MD, ACP Member, is a practicing physician in Massachusetts. He has published numerous articles in clinical medicine, covering a wide range of specialty areas including; pulmonology, cardiology, endocrinology, hematology, and infectious disease. He has also authored chapters in the prestigious "5-Minute Clinical Consult" medical textbook. His other clinical interests include quality improvement, hospital safety, hospital utilization, and the use of technology in health care.
Juliet K. Mavromatis, MD, FACP, provides a conversation about health topics for patients and health professionals.
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Vineet Arora, MD, FACP, is Associate Program Director for the Internal Medicine Residency and Assistant Dean of Scholarship & Discovery at the Pritzker School of Medicine for the University of Chicago. Her education and research focus is on resident duty hours, patient handoffs, medical professionalism, and quality of hospital care. She is also an academic hospitalist.
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Also known as the Green Journal, the American Journal of Medicine publishes original clinical articles of interest to physicians in internal medicine and its subspecialities, both in academia and community-based practice.
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