Items in AFP with MESH term: Referral and Consultation
ABSTRACT: Given the burden of occupational illnesses and injuries in the United States, family physicians should understand the role workplace exposures may play in patients' chief concerns. Incorporating employment screening questions into patients' intake questionnaires is an efficient means of identifying potential occupational causes of symptoms. Recommended questions include what kind of job patients have; whether their symptoms are worse at work; whether they are or have been exposed to dust, fumes, chemicals, radiation, or loud noise; and whether they think their health problems may be related to their work. These questions are especially important when the diagnosis or etiology is in doubt. Depending on patients' responses to the screening questions, a more detailed occupational history may be appropriate. It can be useful to ask about routine tasks performed during a typical work shift, as well as anything out of the ordinary (e.g., a change in routine, an injury or accident). The occupational history should include information about alcohol and tobacco use, second or part-time jobs, military service, hobbies, and home environment. Patients with suspected occupational illnesses or injuries may benefit from referral to an occupational medicine specialist for a more detailed assessment and follow-up.
ABSTRACT: Referring a patient to a neuropsychologist for evaluation provides a level of rigorous assessment of brain function that often cannot be obtained in other ways. The neuropsychologist integrates information from the patient’s medical history, laboratory tests, and imaging studies; an in-depth interview; collateral information from the family and other sources; and standardized assessment instruments to draw conclusions about diagnosis, prognosis, and response to therapy. Family physicians can use this information in the diagnosis and treatment of patients with depression, dementia, concussion, and similar conditions, as well as to address concerns about decision-making capacity. Certain assessment instruments, such as the Mini-Mental State Examination and Patient Health Questionnaire–9, are readily available and easily performed in a primary care office. Distinguishing among depression, dementia, and other conditions can be challenging, and consultation with a neuropsychologist at this level can be diagnostic and therapeutic. The neuropsychologist typically helps the patient, family, and primary care team by establishing decision-making capacity; determining driving safety; identifying traumatic brain injury deficits; distinguishing dementia from depression and other conditions; and detecting malingering. Neuropsychologists use a structured set of therapeutic activities to improve a patient’s ability to think, use judgment, and make decisions (cognitive rehabilitation). Repeat neuropsychological evaluation can be invaluable in monitoring progression and treatment effects.
ABSTRACT: In the United States, prostate cancer is the most common solid tumor malignancy in men and second to lung cancer as the leading cause of cancer deaths in this group. Even though prostate cancer is responsible for 40,000 deaths per year, screening programs are a matter of controversy because scientific evidence is lacking that early detection decreases morbidity and mortality. Furthermore, treatment decisions are difficult to make because of the generally indolent nature of prostate cancer and because it tends to occur in older men who often have multiple, competing medical illnesses. Depending on the specific situation, radical prostatectomy, radiotherapy or watchful waiting (observation) will be the most appropriate management option. In general, localized cancer is best treated with surgical removal of the prostate gland or radiotherapy. Hormone deprivation therapy is the primary method of controlling metastatic prostate cancer. At present, chemotherapy cannot cure disseminated prostate cancer. Watchful waiting is a reasonable management alternative for prostate cancer in an older patient or a patient with other serious illnesses.
ABSTRACT: Bulimia nervosa is characterized by binge eating and inappropriate compensatory behaviors, such as vomiting, fasting, excessive exercise and the misuse of diuretics, laxatives or enemas. Although the etiology of this disorder is unknown, genetic and neurochemical factors have been implicated. Bulimia nervosa is 10 times more common in females than in males and affects up to 3 percent of young women. The condition usually becomes symptomatic between the ages of 13 and 20 years, and it has a chronic, sometimes episodic course. The long-term outcome has not been clarified. Other psychiatric conditions, including substance abuse, are frequently associated with bulimia nervosa and may compromise its diagnosis and treatment. Serious medical complications of bulimia nervosa are uncommon, but patients may suffer from dental erosion, swollen salivary glands, oral and hand trauma, gastrointestinal irritation and electrolyte imbalances (especially of potassium, calcium, sodium and hydrogen chloride). Treatment strategies are based on medication, psychotherapy or a combination of these modalities.
Impact of Family Physicians on Mammography Screening - Editorials
Home Health Care - Article
ABSTRACT: Home health care is the fastest-growing expense in the Medicare program because of the aging population, the increasing prevalence of chronic disease and increasing hospital costs. Patients and families are choosing the option of home care more frequently. Medicare's regulations are often considered the standard of care for all home health agency interactions, even when a patient does not have Medicare insurance. These regulations require patients who receive home health care services to be under the care of a physician and to be homebound. The patient must have a documented need for skilled nursing care or physical, occupational or speech therapy. The care must be part time (28 hours or less per week, eight hours or less per day) and occur at least every 60 days except in special cases. A detailed referral and specific care plan maximize the care to the patient and the reimbursement received by the physician.
Communicating Effectively with a Patient Who Has a Somatization Disorder - Curbside Consultation
Managing Somatic Preoccupation - Article
ABSTRACT: Somatically preoccupied patients are a heterogeneous group of persons who have no genuine physical disorder but manifest psychologic conflicts in a somatic fashion; who have a notable psychologic overlay that accompanies or complicates a genuine physical disorder; or who have psychophysiologic symptoms in which psychologic factors play a major role in physiologic symptoms. In the primary care setting, somatic preoccupation is far more prevalent among patients than are the psychiatric disorders collectively referred to as somatoform disorders (e.g., somatization disorder, hypochondriasis). Diagnostic clues include normal results from physical examination and diagnostic tests, multiple unexplained symptoms, high health care utilization patterns and specific factors in the family and the social history. Treatment may include a physician behavior management strategy, antidepressants, psychiatric consultation and cognitive-behavior therapy.