[to top of second column]
The researchers based their analysis on data from U.S. Census Bureau household surveys. The data included self-reported hours from about 27,000 doctors. The study was supported by a grant from the National Institute on Aging.
"This really presents a problem for us as a country as we strive to maintain a sufficient primary care work force," said Dr. Ann O'Malley of the nonpartisan Center for Studying Health System Change, which has found declines over the past decade of about two hours per week in doctor work time.
The center's surveys add a piece to the puzzle. They've found overall work hours for primary care physicians and medical specialists declining, but hours worked by surgeons remaining stable, said O'Malley who wasn't involved in the new study.
On top of that, fewer medical students are choosing primary care and more are pursuing higher paying specialties. Paying primary care doctors for the time they spend coordinating care, such as talking to other doctors and avoiding duplicative tests, could help, she said.
Primary care doctors handle 2,300 patients on average, far too many for them to be able to realistically follow guidelines for managing their patients' chronic illnesses, let alone their acute care needs, said Dr. Thomas Bodenheimer of University of California, San Francisco. He wasn't involved in the new analysis but studies work force issues in primary care.
"It's just too many patients to take care of," Bodenheimer said. "And you don't make that much money for each visit. It's really exhausting. It's extremely hard work."
On the Net:
Copyright 2010 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
< Recent articles
Back to top
News | Sports | Business | Rural Review | Teaching & Learning | Home and Family | Tourism | Obituaries
Law & Courts |
Spiritual Life |
Health & Fitness |
Calendar | Letters to the Editor