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Many Doctors Plan to Quit or Cut Back

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Reuters: Primary care doctors in the United States feel overworked and nearly half plan to either cut back on how many patients they see or quit medicine entirely, according to a survey released on Tuesday.

And 60 percent of 12,000 general practice physicians found they would not recommend medicine as a career.

"The whole thing has spun out of control. I plan to retire early even though I still love seeing patients. The process has just become too burdensome," the Physicians' Foundation, which conducted the survey, quoted one of the doctors as saying.

The survey adds to building evidence that not enough internal medicine or family practice doctors are trained or practicing in the United States, although there are plenty of specialist physicians.

Health care reform is near the top of the list of priorities for both Congress and president-elect Barack Obama, and doctor's groups are lobbying for action to reduce their workload and hold the line on payments for treating Medicare, Medicaid and other patients with federal or state health insurance.

The Physicians' Foundation, founded in 2003 as part of a settlement in an anti-racketeering lawsuit among physicians, medical societies, and insurer Aetna, Inc., mailed surveys to 270,000 primary care doctors and 50,000 practicing specialists.

The 12,000 answers are considered representative of doctors as a whole, the group said, with a margin of error of about 1 percent. It found that 78 percent of those who answered believe there is a shortage of primary care doctors.

More than 90 percent said the time they devote to non-clinical paperwork has increased in the last three years and 63 percent said this has caused them to spend less time with each patient.

Eleven percent said they plan to retire and 13 percent said they plan to seek a job that removes them from active patient care. Twenty percent said they will cut back on patients seen and 10 percent plan to move to part-time work.

Seventy six percent of physicians said they are working at "full capacity" or "overextended and overworked".

Many of the health plans proposed by members of Congress, insurers and employers's groups, as well as Obama's, suggest that electronic medical records would go a long way to saving time and reducing costs.

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2 comments so far | Post a comment now
Howie November 18, 2008, 10:52 AM

When are we finally going to address one of the main culprits? Out of control litigation! The lawyers and judicial system have destroyed America. They have destroyed everything from playgrounds to lawn mowers to medical care. I have not heard anything from McCain nor from Obama about stopping this destructive behavior. What other country on Earth has lawyers advertising on TV about their ability to screw their fellow Americans? Nothing will improve in the USA until we stop the litigation.

Joel November 18, 2008, 11:24 AM

over the past 30 years we have seen the destruction of the doctor patient relationship due to the business first attitude of the insurance industry and bureaucratic nightmare of medicare and medicaid. When the insurance companies became more interested in what their stockholders have to say than what their customers (the patients) need they placed profit over patient care. It is customary for insurance companies to deny a claim, merely hoping the the patient will just pay for it themselves. When you have the executives of the insurance companies being paid a combined salary and bonus of 118 million dollars (United Healthcare) you can easily see where the money goes in the system, not to patient care, not to the doctors or hospitals providing care, but the CEOs and his minions. Oh, by the way, they just raised your rates again! and the next letter they are telling you that they are denying payment on your recent ER visit because the paperwork was not filled out correctly.

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