Inability to Pay Driving Some Doctors Out of Private Practice

"Honk If I'm Paying Your Doctor Bills," framed tile
Are you honked off?

Here’s a unique aspect to the Great 2010 Healthcare Debate:

As more and more patients can’t pay their medical bills or see the doctor only when absolutely necessary, more physician practices are sinking economically. This factor, much more than government pressure to buy electronic health records, is what’s forcing a growing number of physicians to give up private practice and go to work for hospitals.

David Boles, a family physician in Clarksville, Tenn., isn’t one of them, but his practice is having an increasingly hard time. “We’re dying, man,” he tells BNET. “It is hard out here right now.” Although there’s been a bit of an uptick in business recently, he says, “last year the number of patient visits was way down. What people are doing is they’re saving up bunches of things to talk to a doctor about in one visit. So they’re decreasing their number of visits per year. Patients come in for the follow-up on five chronic conditions and they want their preventive exam done the same day. And if a physician spends an hour with a patient, he can’t be paid enough by the insurance companies to warrant an hour’s work.”

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Industrial Cleaner Linked to Increased Risk of Parkinson’s Disease

man on industrial floor cleaning machine festooned with poison symbols
Industrial Disease

Workers exposed to tricholorethylene (TCE), a chemical once widely used to clean metal such as auto parts, may be at a significantly higher risk of developing Parkinson’s disease, according to a study released today that will be presented at the American Academy of Neurology’s 62nd Annual Meeting in Toronto April 10 to April 17, 2010.

“This is the first time a population-based study has confirmed case reports that exposure to TCE may increase a person’s risk of developing Parkinson’s disease,” said study author Samuel Goldman, MD, with the Parkinson’s Institute in Sunnyvale, California, and a member of the American Academy of Neurology. “TCE was once a popular industrial solvent used in dry cleaning and to clean grease off metal parts, but due to other health concerns the chemical is no longer widely used.”

For the study, researchers obtained job histories from 99 pairs of twins in which only one of the twins had Parkinson’s disease. All of the twins were men and identified from the World War II-Veterans Twins Cohort study. Scientists used twins in the study because they are genetically identical or very similar and provide an ideal population for evaluating environmental risk factors.

The study found workers who were exposed to TCE were five and a half times more likely to have Parkinson’s disease than people not exposed to the chemical.

Those who were exposed to TCE had job histories including work as dry cleaners, machinists, mechanics or electricians.

The study was supported by grants from the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke, The Valley Foundation and the James and Sharron Clark Family Fund.

Article first appeared in ScienceDaily (Feb. 8, 2010)