Doctor's assistants--do we need them? (1/168)

OBJECTIVE: To investigate the potential for the doctor's assistant role within an accident and emergency (A&E) department in relation to consultant workload. METHODS: A time and motion evaluation of the activities of four A&E consultants before and after a doctor's assistant was established as a team member within our department. A review of the literature was undertaken to allow comparisons with the American model of the physician assistant within the emergency department. RESULTS: The initial evaluation indicated that over 20% of the consultant's time could have been saved if an assistant were available to perform a variety of non-medical tasks. The restudy performed once the assistant was in post indicated less time was spent by the doctors in "medical" clerical duties (6.7% v 11.5% time), telephone use (5.6% v 7.7%), and venepuncture/cannula insertion (0.4% v 2.1%), and more time was spent on consultation over cases (15.3% v 11.3%) and supervision of other staff (9.3% v 4.1%). These five areas changed significantly (p = 0.005 by paired t test). CONCLUSIONS: The doctor's assistant may have a role in reprofiling the workload of senior doctors in A&E departments in the UK. They may also have a role in reducing the pressure on junior doctors, though this effect was not evaluated.  (+info)

Voice-controlled robotic arm in laparoscopic surgery. (2/168)

AIM: To report on our experience with a voice-directed robotic arm for scope management in different procedures for "solo-surgery" and in complex laparoscopic operations. METHODS: A chip card with orders for the robotic arm is individually manufactured for every user. A surgeon gives order through a microphone and the optic field is thus under direct command of the surgeon. RESULTS: We analyzed 200 cases of laparoscopic procedures (gallbladder, stomach, colon, and hernia repair) done with the robotic arm. In each procedure the robotic arm worked precisely; voice understanding was exact and functioned flawlessly. A hundred "solo-surgery" operations were performed by a single surgeon. Another 96 complex videoscopic procedures were performed by a surgeon and one assistant. In comparison to other surgical procedures, operative time was not prolonged, and the number of used ports remained unchanged. CONCLUSION: Using the robotic arm in some procedures abolishes the need for assist ance. Further benefit accrued by the use of robotic assistance includes greater stability of view, less inadvertent smearing of the lens, and the absence of fatigue. The robotic arm can be used successfully in every operating theater by all surgeons using laparoscopy.  (+info)

Training medical assistants for surgery. (3/168)

A successful programme is reported from Mozambique for training middle-level health workers to perform fairly advanced surgical procedures in remote areas where the services of consultants are virtually unobtainable. Manpower and financial constraints obliged Mozambique to train medical assistants to perform surgical work in rural areas, where three broad priorities were identified: pregnancy-related complications, trauma-related complications, and emergency inflammatory conditions. Since 1984, 20 health workers have emerged from three-year courses to become tecnicos de cirurgia (assistant medical officers), and it is expected that there will be 46 by 1999. The training comprises two years of lectures and practical sessions in the Maputo Central Hospital, and a practical internship lasting a year at a provincial hospital. Three workshops organized since 1989 suggest that the upgraded personnel are performing well. More detailed evaluation and follow-up are in progress. Throughout 1995 a follow-up was conducted on 14 assistant medical officers. They performed 10,258 surgical operations, some 70% of which were emergency interventions. Low rates of complication occurred and postoperative mortality amounted to 0.4% and 0.1% in emergency and elective interventions respectively.  (+info)

Countertransference and empathic problems in therapists/helpers working with psychotraumatized persons. (4/168)

Countertransference in therapists working with patients with posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) differs from countertransference in other psychotherapeutical settings. In this article we discuss the specificities of counter- transference in treating PTSD patients and its relation to empathy. The most difficult countertransference problems occur in treating multiply traumatized patients. Countertransference may occur towards an event (e.g., war), patients who have killed people, as well as to colleagues who avoid treating PTSD patients, or towards a supervisor who avoids, either directly or indirectly, supervision of therapists working with PTSD patients. Our recommendation for the prevention of problems in treating PTSD patients include : 1) careful selection of the therapist or helper, both in the personality structure and training; 2) prevention by debriefing and team work and peer supervision; and 3) education - theoretical, practical, and therapeutical.  (+info)

Efficient evaluation of thyroid nodules by primary care providers and thyroid specialists. (5/168)

OBJECTIVE: To determine whether primary care providers and thyroid specialists at Gundersen Lutheran Medical Center are evaluating thyroid nodules efficiently by following recently published clinical guidelines. STUDY DESIGN: One-year retrospective chart review. PATIENTS AND METHODS: We reviewed patient records from 1996 and tabulated the use of fine-needle aspiration cytology, radionuclide scanning, and thyroid ultrasonography by 49 primary care physicians evaluating 81 thyroid nodules and by 5 thyroid specialists evaluating 29 thyroid nodules. The results were compared with our previous findings and those recently reported by others. RESULTS: Fine-needle aspiration cytology was widely used by both groups of Gundersen Lutheran healthcare providers. Primary care physicians used imaging studies modestly and generated $106 per patient in unnecessary costs. Thyroid specialists occasionally used radionuclide scanning but did not use thyroid ultrasonography; they generated $41 per patient in unnecessary costs. Overall, the introduction of fine-needle aspiration cytology at our institution has reduced the use of radionuclide scanning from 90% to 12% and the use of thyroid ultrasonography from 30% to 10%. We also found that the frequency of surgery in patients with thyroid nodules fell substantially, yet detection of thyroid cancer in the operative specimens increased from 16% to 43% while the cost of removing a thyroid carcinoma decreased from $64,000 to $25,000. CONCLUSIONS: Fine-needle aspiration cytology, adopted as the initial test for diagnosing thyroid nodules by most of our healthcare providers, has reduced the use of imaging studies far below the frequency reported by others and has substantially decreased the cost of thyroid nodule management.  (+info)

Use of physician assistants and nurse practitioners in primary care, 1995-1999. (6/168)

Federal policies and state legislation encourage the use of physician assistants (PAs) and nurse practitioners (NPs) in primary care, although the nature of their work has not been fully analyzed. In this paper we analyze primary care physician office encounter data from the 1995-1999 National Ambulatory Medical Care Surveys. About one-quarter of primary care office-based physicians used PAs and/or NPs for an average of 11 percent of visits. The mean age of patients seen by physicians was greater than that for PAs or NPs. NPs provided counseling/education during a higher proportion of visits than did PAs or physicians. Overall, this study suggests that PAs and NPs are providing primary care in a way that is similar to physician care.  (+info)

A medical book collection for physician assistants. (7/168)

Selecting resources for physician assistants is challenging and can be overwhelming. Although several core lists exist for nursing, allied health, and medical libraries, judging the scope and level of these resources in relation to the information needs of the physician assistant is difficult. Medical texts can be highly specialized and very expensive, in essence, "overkill" for the needs of the physician assistant. This bibliography is meant to serve as a guide to appropriate medical texts for physician assistants. Titles were selected from the Brandon/Hill list, Doody's Electronic Journal, and various other reference resources. Resources were evaluated based on the subject and scope, audience, authorship, cost, and currency. The collection includes 195 titles from 33 specialty areas. Standard texts in each area are also included.  (+info)

Continuous quality improvement in small general medical practices: the attitudes of general practitioners and other practice staff. (8/168)

OBJECTIVES: Continuous quality improvement (CQI) offers opportunities to improve care in small-scale office-based practice. Little is yet known about the implementation of CQI in small primary care practices. We studied the attitudes of physicians and staff in small family practices to a model of CQI tailored to office-based practice setting. PRACTICES AND DESIGN: An exploratory study in 20 family practices in The Netherlands. Practices were stimulated to adopt the model for continuous quality improvement. MAIN OUTCOME MEASURES: The use of the model at the end of the study period, the perception of the physicians and staff of their success with adopting the model, their view of its usefulness, their willingness to continue and personal and practical obstacles. Measurements were made using written questionnaires. RESULTS: The rate of implementation of the model varied between practices. Participants rated their success in performing improvement projects, holding regular quality meetings and setting targets and priorities. They were positive about the usefulness of the model and they were generally willing to continue to use it. Barriers included the size of workload and the tendency to postpone actions until external support by an outreach visitor was provided. Physician and staff attitudes were homogeneous at a practice level. CONCLUSION: Our findings stress the importance of starting CQI with small, easy-to-handle projects. Workload reduction might be an important issue to focus on. Personal obstacles should be addressed throughout the introduction. We found attitudes in small-scale practices to be homogeneous, so that it was important to pay explicit attention to commitment to CQI from the start of the introduction.  (+info)