Your voice: Too much focus on what doctors don't do well

December 12, 2019

Readers respond to recent articles.

Regarding the brief article titled “Study: PCPs deficient in recognizing prediabetes” [Medical Economics, October 25 issue]. The summary of this survey tells us that John Hopkins researchers found that primary care physicians lack overall knowledge of risk factors, diagnostic criteria, and recommended prevention practices for prediabetes.

While this is disturbing news, why do I get the feeling that similar findings of primary care physicians’ ignorance would be found in surveys about countless other conditions? Wouldn’t it be refreshing to report that primary care physicians are doing a remarkable job in at least something or other? 

Let’s be honest. Medical journals and pharmaceutical advertisers have a common interest not just in keeping physicians reading the articles and the advertisements, but also-for better or worse, in reinforcing doctors’ insecurity in thinking they might not know enough as their peers, do enough for their patients, or prescribe enough of the latest pharmaceutical breakthroughs. As a former full-time editor of peer-reviewed medical journals (The Medical Journal of Australia and The New York State Journal of Medicine), I have long been aware that all medical journals do this to some extent. I myself have also served as a co-author of articles about physicians’ lack of knowledge of the cost of common laboratory tests and medications.

We’d all like to think that keeping doctors on their toes is a main reason for conducting and publishing such research. But perhaps the nation’s health would be better off were the CDC and other government health agencies to divert some of the funding for surveys with predictably disturbing results to the purchase of mass media space aimed at better educating the public in disease prevention.

Alan Blum, MD
Tuscaloosa, Ala.

 

Family physicians deserve our respect

Dr. Dominika Jegen is right to suggest that in urban areas where a good supply of specialists exists, family doctors may have a limited scope of practice compared to hers-practicing as she does in an underserved area: (“Family physicians manage complex patients every day”, November 10, 2019).

She has my sincere apologies if my comments that family practitioners are limited to treating common illnesses and coordinating care with specialists (“Expanding the roles of NPs and PAs will make primary care more desirable”, September 10, 2019) have offended her.

Treating patients as she does, in the clinic, in the hospital, in nursing homes and veteran homes; treating newborns and octogenarians; and treating patients with gynecologic, pediatric, and mental health problems as well as providing palliative care is truly a Herculean task and deserving of all physicians’ admiration.

Edward Volpintesta, MD
Bethel, Conn.

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