ITEMS IN FPM WITH MESH TERM:
Referral and Consultation
ABSTRACT: Although it is important to begin the evaluation of generalized rash with an inclusive differential diagnosis, the possibilities must be narrowed down by taking a focused history and looking for key clinical features of the rash. Part I of this two-part article lists the common, uncommon, and rare causes of generalized rashes. In part II, the clinical features that help distinguish these rashes are described. These features include key elements of the history (e.g., travel, environmental exposures, personal or family history of atopy); characteristics of individual lesions, such as color, size, shape, and scale; areas of involvement and sparing, with particular attention to palms, soles, face, nails, sun-exposed areas, and extensor and flexor surfaces of extremities; pruritic or painful lesions; systemic symptoms, especially fever; and dermatologic signs, such as blanching, and the Koebner phenomenon.
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: Atrial fibrillation is the most common cardiac arrhythmia. It impairs cardiac function and increases the risk of stroke. The incidence of atrial fibrillation increases with age. Key treatment issues include deciding when to restore normal sinus rhythm, when to control rate only, and how to prevent thromboembolism. Rate control is the preferred management option in most patients. Rhythm control is an option for patients in whom rate control cannot be achieved or who have persistent symptoms despite rate control. The current recommendation for strict rate control is a resting heart rate of less than 80 beats per minute. However, one study has shown that more lenient rate control of less than 110 beats per minute while at rest was not inferior to strict rate control in preventing cardiac death, heart failure, stroke, and life-threatening arrhythmias. Anticoagulation therapy is needed with rate control and rhythm control to prevent stroke. Warfarin is superior to aspirin and clopidogrel in preventing stroke despite its narrow therapeutic range and increased risk of bleeding. Tools that predict the risk of stroke (e.g., CHADS2) and the risk of bleeding (e.g., Outpatient Bleeding Risk Index) are helpful in making decisions about anticoagulation therapy. Surgical options for atrial fibrillation include disruption of abnormal conduction pathways in the atria, and obliteration of the left atrial appendage. Catheter ablation is an option for restoring normal sinus rhythm in patients with paroxysmal atrial fibrillation and normal left atrial size. Referral to a cardiologist is warranted in patients who have complex cardiac disease; who are symptomatic on or unable to tolerate pharmacologic rate control; or who may be candidates for ablation or surgical interventions.
Bridging the Physician-Counselor Divide - The Last Word
ABSTRACT: Constipation is traditionally defined as three or fewer bowel movements per week. Risk factors for constipation include female sex, older age, inactivity, low caloric intake, low-fiber diet, low income, low educational level, and taking a large number of medications. Chronic constipation is classified as functional (primary) or secondary. Functional constipation can be divided into normal transit, slow transit, or outlet constipation. Possible causes of secondary chronic constipation include medication use, as well as medical conditions, such as hypothyroidism or irritable bowel syndrome. Frail older patients may present with nonspecific symptoms of constipation, such as delirium, anorexia, and functional decline. The evaluation of constipation includes a history and physical examination to rule out alarm signs and symptoms. These include evidence of bleeding, unintended weight loss, iron deficiency anemia, acute onset constipation in older patients, and rectal prolapse. Patients with one or more alarm signs or symptoms require prompt evaluation. Referral to a subspecialist for additional evaluation and diagnostic testing may be warranted.
ABSTRACT: Heart murmurs are common in healthy infants, children, and adolescents. Although most are not pathologic, a murmur may be the sole manifestation of serious heart disease. Historical elements that suggest pathology include family history of sudden cardiac death or congenital heart disease, in utero exposure to certain medications or alcohol, maternal diabetes mellitus, history of rheumatic fever or Kawasaki disease, and certain genetic disorders. Physical examination should focus on vital signs; age-appropriate exercise capacity; respiratory or gastrointestinal manifestations of congestive heart failure; and a thorough cardiovascular examination, including features of the murmur, assessment of peripheral perfusion, and auscultation over the heart valves. Red flags that increase the likelihood of a pathologic murmur include a holosystolic or diastolic murmur, grade 3 or higher murmur, harsh quality, an abnormal S2, maximal murmur intensity at the upper left sternal border, a systolic click, or increased intensity when the patient stands. Electrocardiography and chest radiography rarely assist in the diagnosis. Referral to a pediatric cardiologist is recommended for patients with any other abnormal physical examination findings, a history of conditions that increase the likelihood of structural heart disease, symptoms suggesting underlying cardiac disease, or when a specific innocent murmur cannot be identified by the family physician. Echocardiography provides a definitive diagnosis and is recommended for evaluation of any potentially pathologic murmur, and for evaluation of neonatal heart murmurs because these are more likely to be manifestations of structural heart disease.
ABSTRACT: Chronic kidney disease affects an estimated 27 million adults in the United States, and is associated with significantly increased risk of cardiovascular disease and stroke. Patients should be assessed annually to determine whether they are at increased risk of developing chronic kidney disease based on clinical and sociodemographic factors. Diabetes mellitus, hypertension, and older age are the primary risk factors that warrant screening. Other risk factors include cardiovascular disease, family history of chronic kidney disease, and ethnic and racial minority status. Serum creatinine levels can be used to estimate the glomerular filtration rate, and spot urine testing can detect proteinuria. After the diagnosis of chronic kidney disease is made, staging based on estimated glomerular filtration rate determines prognosis, evaluation, and management. Further evaluation should focus on the specific type of kidney disease and on identifying complications related to the disease stage. Patients should be assessed for risk factors leading to the further loss of kidney function and cardiovascular disease. Patients with estimated glomerular filtration rates less than 30 mL per minute per 1.73 m2, significant proteinuria, or rapid loss of kidney function should be referred to a nephrologist for further evaluation and management.