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Fam Pract Manag. 2014;21(6):32

Help patients avoid a fungal outbreak

Tinea pedis, sometimes called “athlete's foot,” spreads easily from the feet to other areas of the body. To help patients avoid spreading tinea when they're getting dressed, I recommend that before they put on their underwear, they first put medicine on their feet and put on their socks. That way, they don't accidentally catch their toes in their underpants and spread the fungus farther up their body.

Reduce scar tissue from a skin biopsy

I have found that using a 3 mm or 5 mm disposable biopsy punch to make the incision for draining a skin abscess creates a neat opening and heals well. If the punch is angled properly, you can leave the top of the circle of skin (the 12 o'clock position) attached. This opening allows you to remove the purulent material, and then it closes on its own, leaving only a small defect.

Remind patients to control their salt intake

Many patients need to monitor and reduce sodium intake. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has recommended a maximum daily limit of 2300 mg, but many patients have trouble remembering this number. So, I take creative license and say their total daily salt intake should not exceed “2345” mg. This seems to be easier for my patients to remember.

Have patients visualize the source of their stress

Patients feeling overwhelmed b y stress often will spend much of a visit venting. A simple way to help them is to draw a circle and ask them to divide it into three parts: 1) the portion of their time spent working, labeled “W” for “work”; 2) the portion of their time spent being involved in loving relationships, labeled “L” for “love”; and 3) the remaining portion of time set aside for themselves, labeled “S” for “self.” This can help show patients the lack of balance in their lives as work typically includes more than half of the pie chart. Ask patients how they feel about how their time is divided and how they would like to either change it or better handle it.

Incorporating part-time physicians into panels

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Practice Pearls presents readers' advice on practice operations and patient care, along with tips drawn from the literature. Send us your best pearl (250 words or less), and you'll earn $50 if we publish it. Send pearls, questions, and comments to fpmedit@aafp.org, or add your comments below.

 

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