Daniela Lamas, M.D.
Daniela Lamas is a pulmonary and critical care doctor at the Brigham & Women's Hospital, an instructor in medicine at Harvard Medical School, and a medical writer whose work spans newspapers, books, and television. Both on the page and on the stage, she explores humanism in medicine and medical ethics, bridging the gap between the clinical and the personal, the scientific and the humane.
A writer at heart, Dr. Lamas pushes back the curtain to reveal the untold stories of patient and physician experiences within hospitals in ways that are accessible beyond the medical field. Her book You Can Stop Humming Now: A Doctor's Stories of Life, Death, and in Between is a compilation of essays illustrating what happens to a patient after surviving intensive care, how their lives change after near-death experiences reversed by medical treatments and technologies.
She is a contributing Opinion writer for the New York Times and served as a writer and producer for Fox’s The Resident. In both her columns and television writing, she pulls from the real-life stories of her patients, her colleagues, and her own experiences to shine a light on the human side of medicine. With a remarkable ability to translate medical narratives into compelling stories, she reminds us that behind every diagnosis and treatment plan are real people with stories and emotions. She explores what happens after a life is saved, the ethics of the split-second decisions doctors must make in emergency situations, and what needs to be changed in medicine to better support patients and physicians.
Dr. Lamas is associate faculty on the Serious Illness Care Program at Harvard’s Ariadne Labs, an innovation laboratory headed by Dr. Atul Gawande. As an ICU physician, Lamas has long pondered, “what happens after a patient leaves the ICU?” Her clinical and research areas of focus are in long-term critical care survivorship, palliative care in the ICU, and decision-making surrounding chronic critical illness. At the lab, her work centers around the development and evaluation of a standardized approach for clinicians to conduct discussions about end-of-life values and goals with seriously ill patients and their families. Her work also seeks to better understand and improve the outcomes for patients who have survived critical illness. She has also spearheaded a Society of Critical Care Medicine-funded THRIVE initiative to create follow-up clinics for ICU survivors.
Prior to her current appointments, Dr. Lamas worked as a medical reporter for the Miami Herald, was an editorial fellow at the New England Journal of Medicine, and worked on the ABC News Medical Unit. Beyond the New York Times, her writing can be found in the New Yorker, The Boston Globe, The Atlantic, and various medical journals. She is a graduate of Harvard College and earned her MD at Columbia University College of Physicians & Surgeons.
Humanism in Medicine
Oftentimes in medicine, it can become routine to treat the disease rather than treating the patient. Decisions are made on auto-pilot, focusing only on resolving the critical issue to keep the patient alive. But in doing so, providers miss crucial moments of interference where a brief pause to consider the patient’s human needs can make a world of difference. Taking a moment before intubation to allow the family to say what could end up being their final goodbyes. Extending agency to patients by presenting treatment options and encouraging them to choose so they feel in control. Ensuring that patients are thriving mentally and physically after being released from critical care. These are simple actions that center the patient’s humanity and ensure they are seen as more than an item on your to-do list. When providers reflect on patient interactions through a humanistic lens and discover places between standard protocols where an extra dose of compassion can be incorporated, everyone benefits. In this talk, Dr. Lamas reflects on the ways that working from a humanistic point of view makes you a better doctor and the small changes you can make to enhance patient experience.
Life, Death, and Leadership: ICU Strategies for Business Leaders
In the high-pressure environment of the ICU, the thin line between life and death hinges on effective leadership and unwavering teamwork. Every second counts. Every person has their role to play. Every task must be performed with the highest level of accuracy. In the ICU, teamwork isn’t just important—it’s a matter of survival. Like a finely tuned team sport, it requires unparalleled levels of coordination, cooperation, communication, and trust. While the business realm may not carry life-or-death stakes, the principles of high-octane leadership gleaned from one of the world's most high-pressure professions can catalyze transformative change for your team. Dr. Daniela Lamas, drawing on her role as an ICU team lead, offers invaluable insights into leadership and teamwork, unveiling universal lessons that resonate beyond medical walls. Elevate your team's performance by assimilating lessons from the front lines of healthcare into your corporate arena.
Prescribing Reality: Ethical Considerations in Writing Medical Dramas
As a writer for televised medical dramas, Dr. Daniela Lamas skillfully navigates the delicate balance between entertainment and accuracy, ensuring viewers are both captivated and well-informed. This begs the question: how does one effectively translate medical reality for a broad audience? In a world where a significant portion of medical knowledge is shaped by television portrayals, what responsibilities do TV writers bear to present reliable information? What are the ethical considerations of adapting a case from one’s practice for the screen? Where does one draw the line between sensationalized narratives and compassionate storytelling, especially when the issues discussed hold tangible significance for real people? In this behind-the-scenes look at the process of writing for television, Dr. Lamas reveals how her medical practice informs her work on your favorite TV shows.