Morning Medical Update: Is it ‘COVID Eye’ or allergies?; Major shortage of physicians over next decade; Chatbot medical responses get good reviews

The top news stories in primary care today.

morning coffee doctor hands © Alena Kryazheva -

© Alena Kryazheva -

Is it ‘COVID Eye’ or allergies?

The new strain of COVID-19, Arcturus, has a new symptom – conjunctivitis, especially prevalent in children. This has the potential to confuse many given the fact that it is allergy season. ‘Covid eye’ and allergies can appear very similar and the only true way to diagnose the difference is by seeing a physician.

Major shortage of physicians over next decade

Doctors are in high demand nationwide with some experts projecting a shortage of 124,000 over the next decade. The Biden administration is addressing this shortage with the national health service corps. In exchange for practicing in underserved communities, the program helps physicians with loan repayment and awards scholarships. For it to continue, they need 960 million dollars.

Chatbot medical responses get good reviews

In a recent study, ChatGPT answered patients questions with more empathy and accuracy than a busy doctor. For example, when presented with the question “what are my odds of dying after swallowing a toothpick?” a busy physician responded with “If you’ve surpassed 2-6 h, chances are they’ve passed into your intestines. Which means it can’t be retrieved easily.” ChatGTP’s response begins with, “It’s natural to be concerned if you have ingested a foreign object, but in this case, it’s highly unlikely that the toothpick you swallowed will cause you any serious harm.” Participants favored the ChatGTP response 78% of the time.

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