Curbside Consultation

This department addresses legal, psychological, and ethical issues physicians may encounter in their day-to-day practice. Each article contains a brief case scenario, followed by a commentary section written by a consultant who responds to the particular issue addressed in the scenario.

Jan 15, 2002 Issue
It Sounds Like Child Abuse--But Is It?
Physicians face a daunting task when they have to report allegations of child abuse.

Oct 1, 2001 Issue
Confronted by an Unexpected Laboratory Result
As we can see, an inadvertent laboratory test result may lead to a cascade of further tests—possibly resulting in unnecessary morbidity or even (rarely) mortality. Each year, millions of screening tests are ordered in violation of recommended guidelines—because of simple clerical error (as in this case) or unfamiliarity with the recommended guidelines.

Sep 1, 2001 Issue
A Potentially Suicidal Patient
On rare occasions, it falls to the family physician to assess a patient's suicidality.

Aug 1, 2001 Issue
A Case of Physician Burnout
Monday morning. A waiting room full of walk-in patients. A patient in pain who says, “Fix this now.” And a physician who wonders if he is going to have to leave clinical practice, defeated by the stress and the hassles. How many things can we find wrong in this everyday picture? More importantly, how can they be made right? The following suggestions may help this practitioner and others avoid burnout.

Jun 1, 2001 Issue
Dealing with Adolescent Latino Patients
Latinos are now the largest minority group in the United States, so this scenario is one that many physicians are likely to face in their practices. How, in the face of substantial cultural and language barriers, can we effectively address adolescent health issues in this high-risk population?

May 1, 2001 Issue
Failure to Thrive: Parental Neglect or Well-Meaning Ignorance?
A case scenario describing a six-month-old infant's weight loss. The physician commentary outlines the careful analysis required to reach an accurate diagnosis.

Apr 1, 2001 Issue
What Should Physicians Tell About Themselves to Patients?
This physician's questions fall under the broad category of what physicians should tell about themselves to patients and, in this case, what physicians should tell patients about their own illnesses.

Mar 1, 2001 Issue
A Major Medical Error
Virtually all of us have faced the awful realization that we have made a serious error. Almost as chilling is the prospect of telling the patient or family members about the error.

Feb 1, 2001 Issue
A "Hopeless" Patient
The title of this case scenario is emphatically appropriate because it describes the intense feelings that obese patients and those with difficult, chronic lifestyle issues evoke in their physicians. The author aptly describes feelings and reactions such as frustration, cynicism about the patient's motivations and hopelessness about the ability to cure a problem that he or she perceives as belonging more to the patient than to the physician.

Jan 1, 2001 Issue
A Patient Seeking Disability
The frustration of the physician who wrote this case scenario is real, and many physicians experience this frustration in their practices. Physicians receive forms from various disability-granting agencies requesting information regarding the initiation or perpetuation of disability claims.

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