Match Day: More medical graduates entering primary care

From USA Today:

The number of medical students committing to primary care rather than specialties increased for the fourth straight year in the largest “match program” in history, a report out Friday says, but medical experts warn a severe shortage of doctors will still exist.

U.S. emergency medicine learns life-saving lessons from combat care

From the Herald and News:

Dr. Howard Mell, EMS director for the Lake Health system of hospitals outside Cleveland and chairman of the EMS Section of the American College of Emergency Physicians, sees the contributions to civilian care from the latest conflicts firsthand.

He noted that improvements in trauma dressings, tourniquets and methods to keep a patient breathing “are actually helping civilians, particularly in mass trauma events. Some were used at the scene of the shootings involving Rep. (Gabrielle) Giffords in Arizona, for instance.”

Intuitive Surgical’s Robot Surgeons Encounter Human Lawyers

From Businessweek:

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration in January sent out surveys to surgeons about the safety of Intuitive’s robo-surgery gear. The FDA hoped to determine whether a rise in reported mishaps is “a true reflection of problems,” says FDA spokeswoman Synim Rivers.

That’s cast a shadow over one of the fastest-growing medical technologies in the U.S.—and Intuitive, which dominates the field. The Sunnyvale (Calif.)-based company received almost all its $2.2 billion in revenue in 2012 from its da Vinci Surgical System and related products. The original prototype was developed under a U.S. Army contract in the 1980s to build a system for remote-controlled battlefield surgery. Intuitive’s robot was cleared for use in 2000, and the company’s products remain the only robotic systems approved in the U.S. for soft-tissue procedures that include general surgery, gynecological surgery, and prostate operations. The machines, which can cost about $1.5 million apiece, were used in 367,000 U.S. procedures in 2012, up from 228,000 two years earlier. That growth helped boost Intuitive’s stock market value 83 percent in the three years ended Feb. 1, to about $23.2 billion.

Nurse Practitioners, Handmaidens No More

From Businessweek:

The nurses will likely see more referrals from local emergency rooms—mostly patients requiring follow-up care—as well as those with chronic conditions that need monitoring and those seeking treatment for the minor bumps, bruises, and sniffles of everyday life. “It’s controversial because some physicians feel that’s taking over their role,” says Kenny, who cares for patients with heart disease and diabetes at her Transition Clinic. “I’m not qualified for extremely complicated cases, but there’s going to be this influx of patients that need to go somewhere.”

The American Medical Association, the nation’s largest physicians’ lobby, opposes allowing anyone to practice medicine independently who hasn’t completed state requirements for medical doctors. Yet by 2015 the U.S. will be facing a shortage of about 63,000 doctors, according to the Association of American Medical Colleges. While there has been a push for more primary-care physicians, training typically takes about 10 to 15 years.