Saturday, August 25, 2012

41 percent of the time, Americans go to specialists instead of primary-care doctors for basic health needs, study finds

More than 40 percent of the time, Americans are turning to higher-paid specialists instead of primary-care doctors to deal with their basic health needs, including colds and fever, a new study has found.

Researchers at Mount Sinai Hospital in New York looked at data from more than 20,000 doctor visits in 1999 and 2007 that included information about why the patient had come to the doctor’s office. “Fifty-nine percent of those with primary care needs, the runny-nose group, were seen by a primary care doctor,” reports Sarah Kliff for The Washington Post. “Forty-one percent sought out care at a specialist.”

Researchers included gynecologists and internal medicine physicians in the specialists group, though they tend to have heavy primary care loads. But even without those two specialties, 27 percent of primary care appointments happened in specialists’ offices.

A 2010 study found primary care doctors earn a $69 hourly rate, compared to $92 per hour and $85 per hour that surgeons and ob-gyns earn, respectively. (Read more)

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