Photo: Lauren BaggettDr. Ngozi Ifeadi, an internal medicine resident at Athens Regional Medical Center, reviews medication history with a 70-year-old patient at ARMC’s Community Care Clinic.
Athens, Ga., is a small city about 75 miles east of Atlanta. Older adults love its low cost of living, community-mindedness and proximity to a major urban area. What they don’t love, however, is the poor access to specialized senior health care.
Nearly 10 percent (11,830) of the city’s 120,000 residents are over age 65, but only three office-based geriatricians practice here. Continue reading →
Medical centers should compensate doctors in a way that promotes the patients’ best interests.
Professional medical societies and medical institutions (such as teaching hospitals) need to take a long, hard look at their own relationships with the industry.
Institutions should identify their physicians’ industry relationships, set thresholds for their disclosure, and identify situations in which disclosures should be made directly to the patient. These regulations should all have teeth.
Centers and physicians should work with patients to figure out how best to disclose industry ties.
The AAMC committee that produced the report wrote that, while they focused on academic medicine, their recommendations could (and should) be applied to all of clinical medicine.
David Wolman, writing in Wired, chronicles the efforts of an Illinois physics professor, George Gollin (bio), to topple a $7 million fake-degree empire. It’s a fun story, and well worth a read, but the part that will most interest health journalists pops up at the very end: The professor who took down the operation that granted about 9,600 fake degrees used by everyone from schoolteachers to Bush White House staffers is now looking into what he thinks is a phony online medical school.
Wolman ends with this sketch of the professor at work:
He erases equations from a blackboard and scribbles a spider’s web of names, notes, and online sites all relating to an outfit called St. Luke School of Medicine, which he believes sells bogus medical degrees. “You get a real rise out of people when you talk about fake MDs,” he says.
The outfit in question, St. Luke School of Medicine, has now posted a message announcing it’s no longer accepting new students. However, if Gollin’s previous work (in his own words) is any indication, St. Luke is probably just one entry point into a universe of dubious medical degrees.
NOTE: As the Wired story makes clear, media outlets played a major role in the effort to expose the first diploma mill, especially by shaming public institutions into investigating and prosecuting the offenders. Reporters like The Spokesman-Review‘s Bill Morlin and Jim Camden helped connect the dots and expose the full reach of the story.
Pia Christensen (@AHCJ_Pia) is the managing editor/online services for AHCJ. She manages the content and development of healthjournalism.org, coordinates AHCJ's social media efforts and edits and manages production of association guides, programs and newsletters.
Dr. Deborah German, dean of the medical school, says it admitted 41 students in the school’s first class and donors have pledged enough money to cover each student’s tuition and living expenses for all four years.
The report says that most medical students have racked up more than $150,000 of debt by the time they graduate. The report includes discussion about whether coming out of med school debt-free might encourage some to go into primary care rather than more lucrative specialties, such as plastic surgery.
German says that when medical students enter school, most of them do so with dreams and a sense of altruism but that by the end of medical school, they are starting families and the reality of debt sets in, perhaps pushing them away from going into primary care.
The donors, according to German, include hospitals, banks, law firms, women’s groups and all kinds of businesses. The money comes without strings; the students are not committed to go into a particular specialty or practice in a certain location.
According to Sorrel, students are leaving medical school with debt loads that sometimes top $200,000, burdens which some sources said push students away from longer residencies or lower-paying, underserved specializations and locations.
Delegates at the 2009 meeting called for innovative new measures, including “shortening the length of training for combined residency or dual-degree programs, easing loan repayment obligations and ensuring equitable tuition increases.”