This is an important question. Most people will see their family doctor (also call primary care provider) at least once a year. We often have a personal relationship with these doctors. We may know their families and they know ours. We see those doctors when we have a sore throat which will not go away, to check our blood pressure and change our medicines when necessary, to look at that lump on our back or the mole on our forehead which may have changed in size or color.
The family doctor is the “doorway” to the health care system. If she cannot treat your condition, she can refer you to a dermatologist, surgeon, kidney specialist, etc., who can.
Family doctors see all kinds of patients with all kinds of issues. Granted, it is difficult to be knowledgeable in all areas of medicine. However, the most important question is whether your family doctor is following medically established and tested ways to diagnose and treat patients. These established and tested ways to diagnose and treat patients is called Evidence Based Medicine or EBM. In short, EBM is the use of proven and established modern methods for the diagnosis and treatment of a patient’s health problems. EBM combines clinical experience and patient values with the best available research information.
How are our family practice doctors doing in regard to using EBM? Not good. A recent study on this topic concluded that only 18% of primary care decisions are based on EBM. This report is staggering and should be a concern to us all. How many skin cancer cases are going undiagnosed? What about cancerous tumors in the lungs or brain? What about medication errors? The list goes on and on.
Read the report here.