Articles by Dr. Erik Steele


MPBN — Saving the Voice of Maine

By Dr. Erik Steele on May 30, 2011, at 6:48 p.m.
If I wanted to slowly pull Maine apart, the first thing I would do is silence the one voice that reaches all of us across this sprawling, special state, the voice that tells each of us that the rest of us are worth listening to, learning about and caring for. …

Gutting Maine’s health care system

By Dr. Erik Steele on May 16, 2011, at 6:53 p.m.
In a desperate effort to deal with rising health care costs, Maine is in the process of hauling parts of its health care system up on a pole and gutting it like a dead deer. Its governor proposed last week to bag health insurance for 28,000 poor Mainers as part …

Mother’s Day 2011: the gift of old family photos

By Dr. Erik Steele on May 02, 2011, at 8:35 p.m.
This year, my older daughter turned 27, my wife’s age when the two of them first met face to face. My younger daughter turned 24, which is four months older than her mother was when we got married. Over those years I have captured a lot of the moments in …

Let’s not be Medicare idiots again

By Dr. Erik Steele on April 18, 2011, at 7:26 p.m.
There are a lot of smart people out there on the national political scene who think you and I are idiots. In fact, they are planning on it, and assuming we can be manipulated for their benefit when debates about controlling Medicare costs heat up in the next two years. …

Computers in medicine — better than the stethoscope

By Dr. Erik Steele on April 04, 2011, at 9:26 p.m.
Forgive your physicians if they are looking more and more like your computer-addicted teenager these days, because there’s a darn good reason; computers are the best thing to come along in patient care since the blood-sucking leech. In fact, if you now made me choose between my stethoscope and my …

16-plus questions about watering down Maine’s seat belt law

By Dr. Erik Steele on March 21, 2011, at 9:35 p.m.
Like many of you, I hope this is the last seat belt column I ever write. Sometime in the next few days, the Maine Legislature will decide whether to water down Maine’s seat belt law. Here are 16 questions to ask Maine legislators who might vote to do that: 1. …

Dr. Slash’s rules for cutting budgets

By Dr. Erik Steele on March 07, 2011, at 9:03 p.m.
Moles and bumps, fingers and limbs, people and hospital programs – all and more have fallen to my knife as a physician or hospital administrator. It’s always been for a greater good, but it has been some of the most nasty, difficult work I have ever done. For those involved …

It’s time to stop deceiving ourselves about the budget

By Dr. Erik Steele on Feb. 21, 2011, at 8:10 p.m.
Once in a while a patient with high blood pressure who smokes like a fiend comes into my office and says earnestly, “Doc, I’m worried about my cholesterol.” He’s a stroke waiting to happen focused anywhere but where he needs to be, and all I want to ask him is, …

Seat belt regulation in public space

By Dr. Erik Steele on Feb. 07, 2011, at 10:31 p.m.
State legislators are forced to consider pesky issues such as personal freedom, the rule of law and public opinion when considering proposed and existing laws regulating personal behaviors. That may explain why some of them worry that an enforceable law mandating seat belts paves the way to more draconian limits …

Health care mandates everlasting

By Dr. Erik Steele on Jan. 24, 2011, at 9:50 p.m.
Having happily snoozed through constitutional law classes in college, I am now conditioned to do likewise whenever the words “Constitution” and “law” appear in the same sentence. That makes it tough for me to stay awake long enough to contemplate recent news that 25 American states are suing the federal …

Baby boomers leaving a mess for next generation

By Dr. Erik Steele on Jan. 10, 2011, at 9:42 p.m.
The young man before me does not look that impressive. He’s not that big, his clothes are a little shabby, and in the photograph I’m holding he’s not doing anything remarkable. The picture is …

Making it to medical school against all odds

By Dr. Erik Steele on Dec. 27, 2010, at 5:37 p.m.
Late next summer, Maine’s only medical school will welcome to its first-year student ranks a young woman who made it there against almost all of the odds. When she walks through the doors of the …

Sharing a Christmas wish list for this holiday season

By Dr. Erik Steele on Dec. 13, 2010, at 6:29 p.m.
I know many of you out there have been worrying about what to get me for Christmas this year. To relieve your stress, and because my holiday shopping is done when everyone knows what I want, I have …

Caring for early childhood is critical

By Dr. Erik Steele on Nov. 29, 2010, at 8:07 p.m.
There’s a reason we were all born with fat heads, and it’s not so we qualify to be Fox News commentators before we are out of diapers. We need those disproportionately hefty heads because the …

A thoughtful discussion of a CT scan decision

By Dr. Erik Steele on Nov. 15, 2010, at 7:59 p.m.
I like to torment readers of my column, so two weeks ago I asked them what they would do as the doctor in a real patient care dilemma that came straight out of my family practice. Embedded in one difficult decision were “simple” issues of potentially fatal medical errors, health care costs, how fear drives patient care and much more.

The doc is out; it’s your call

By Dr. Erik Steele on Nov. 02, 2010, at 12:32 a.m.
Being my patient should be pretty simple. You come into my office with a nail of a problem and I hit it with the hammer of my therapy.

Fear of health care rationing

By Dr. Erik Steele on Oct. 19, 2010, at 10:06 a.m.
I’m a rational guy. I can, after all, (just barely) watch the Patriots trade away Randy Moss without my kidneys bleeding. What really makes me irrational, however, is when smart people who lead us complain about the rationing of health care as though it is an evil conspiracy of those …

Need-to-know health care

By Dr. Erik Steele on Oct. 04, 2010, at 5:44 p.m.
Watching candidates run for election as governor of the state reminds me that the top job in state government requires the ego of Donald Trump, the hide of a rhino and more guts than a …

A look inside the dizzying world of primary care

By Dr. Erik Steele on Sept. 20, 2010, at 7:59 p.m.
“Primary care providers” are the thousands of family docs, internists, nurse practitioners, physician assistants and pediatricians who provide basic health care to you and about 200 million other …

Hard truths, decisions that come with age

By Dr. Erik Steele on Sept. 06, 2010, at 8:49 p.m.
I tell my daughters that the biggest difference between adulthood and a childhood is that decisions get more difficult as we grow up, and here’s proof: I have worked my last shift as an emergency …
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