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“Frequent Flyers” To The Hospital

Let me start by saying that this post is not meant to attack the chronic conditions of compliant patients who require frequent hospitalizations. As physicians, we’re obligated to “do no harm” and provide the best care for our patients. Yet despite our most sincere attempts to educate our patients about disease prevention, some choose to refrain from using their insulin appropriately, continue illicit drug usage, and never fill their blood pressure medications. At what point do we say enough is enough? After the eighth episode of diabetic ketoacidosis (DKA) in a year? After a fourth hospital admission (including ICU stays) following weekend binge drinking?

We use countless resources, many which are funded by tax-payers, to treat “frequent flyers” who’ve had multiple inpatient admissions for the same (likely preventable) causes. It’s frustrating, expensive, and time-consuming! The optimistic part of me thinks that maybe this time they’ll make a lifestyle change, but I’m disappointed yet again several weeks later. Many of my attending physician mentors feel content with believing this is just the way of things.

Maybe it is? Any tips on how you deal with noncompliance?

Either way, healthcare begins with self-care.


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