Family Docs Provide Other Diagnoses at Prenatal Visits

Family physicians more likely to make non-obstetric diagnoses than obstetricians at such visits

TUESDAY, Mar. 10 (HealthDay News) -- Family physicians were more likely to diagnose non-obstetric problems in female patients during prenatal visits than obstetricians, according to research published in the March/April issue of the Annals of Family Medicine.

Andrew Coco, M.D., of the Lancaster General Hospital in Lancaster, Pa., analyzed data from the National Ambulatory Medical Care Survey on prenatal visits to family physicians' and obstetricians' offices from 1995 to 2004, assessing non-obstetric diagnoses at such visits.

Of the visits with family physicians, 17.6 percent included at least one non-obstetric secondary or tertiary diagnoses, compared to 7.8 percent of visits with an obstetrician, the researcher reports. In multivariate analysis, seeing a family physician was an independent predictor of having a prenatal visit with non-obstetric diagnoses (odds ratio, 2.57).

"This practice style fits with the model for which family physicians are trained -- to provide comprehensive primary care in the medical home -- and these data show comprehensive primary care occurs even during prenatal visits," the author writes. "In conclusion, prenatal care by family physicians may benefit some women in terms of access to care by not having to schedule separate appointments for problems not related to prenatal care. A decline in prenatal care by family physicians could potentially affect access to non-obstetric services for pregnant women."

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Eric Metcalf

Eric Metcalf

Published on March 10, 2009

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