By now you’ve probably heard tale of NPR’s Scott Simon and his tweets heard round the world.

HIs 84 year-old mother was hospitalized in the ICU in Chicago, having gone through an emergency operation because of longstanding cancer.

In real, time-sequenced fashion, Simon used his Twitter stream to share his thoughts and sentiments to more than a million followers. Many mainstream media outlets ran the story because of the poignancy of what was happening.

Scott Simon and his Mom.

Scott Simon and his Mom.

Alas, Patricia Lyons Simon Newman died from complications of her condition. Simon was at her bedside for days, holding her hand, sharing her thoughts, her humor, and pathos.

Many pundits have called it “Twitter’s finest hour,” showing that the micro-blogging tool that is so popular (but often thought so inane) has some real use in conveying emotion, sentiment, and a sense of community. [Of course, Twitter’s also been known to play a role in revolutions amidst government internet crackdowns.]

Another blogger-cum-Twitter personality, Dr. Bob Wachter, also blogged and Tweeted about his own mother’s illness. Wachter is a well-known name in academic medical circles, credited with having coined the “hospitalist” concept in the late 1990s. He’s also the immediate past president of the American Board of Internal Medicine. Suffice it to say that he has clout.

So it’s well worth a read of his synopsis of his mother’s stay (ordeal?) at his own medical center, the University of California at San Francisco, always considered one of the nation’s best training grounds for doctors. As he says in the post, he’s “eaten at [his] own restaurant many times,” having had other family members treated at UCSF.

It makes an interesting read to hear an elite faculty member describe the care received by his own elderly mother from doctor-colleagues in another specialty (in this case, surgeons).

The very quick takeaway–lots of good things happened, but much could be improved upon. If you are interested in why health care is both so challenging and at times so NOT patient-centered, his post is worth reading.


One other note: GlassHospital readers will enjoy a blog post that I wrote for NPR’s “Shots” blog, which offers a slice-of-life of daily doctoring and some hope for the future. Essay linked here.