American Family Physician

Published by American Academy of Family Physicians
Online ISSN: 0002-838X
Publications
Article
The systems protecting the quality of drinking water in the United States are deteriorating. Many urban water and sewer systems are obsolete. Industrial wastes are imposing a burden on wastewater treatment facilities. In the U.S., outbreaks of water-borne disease are primarily limited to enteritis associated with viruses or Giardia. Issues in the contamination of drinking water by toxic substances include disposal practices, accidental contamination, agricultural runoff and chlorination byproducts. Physicians must support stringent enforcement of water quality standards.
 
Article
Youth sports participation carries an inherent risk of injury, including overuse injuries. Little leaguer's shoulder, a stress fracture of the proximal humerus that presents as lateral shoulder pain, usually is self-limited. Little leaguer's elbow is a medial stress injury; treatment consists of complete rest from throwing for four to six weeks followed by rehabilitation and a gradual throwing program. Spondylolysis is a stress fracture of the pars interarticularis. Diagnostic modalities include plain film radiography, bone scan, computed tomography, single photon emission computed tomography, and magnetic resonance imaging. Treatment usually is conservative. Spondylolisthesis is the forward or anterior displacement of one vertebral body over another and may be related to a history of spondylolysis. Diagnosis is made with plain film radiography and graded according to the amount of displacement. Osgood-Schlatter disease presents as anterior knee pain localized to the tibial tubercle. Diagnosis is made clinically, and most patients respond to conservative measures. Calcaneal apophysitis (or Sever's disease) is a common cause of heel pain in young athletes, presenting as pain in the posterior aspect of the calcaneus.
 
Article
The 10 chief offenders among food allergens are cow's milk, chocolate and cola (the kola nut family), corn, eggs, the pea family (chiefly peanut, which is not a nut), citrus fruits, tomato, wheat and other small grains, cinnamon and artificial food colors. Food allergy results in a remarkable variety of clinical syndromes. Diagnois rests on an elimination and challenge process. Treatment is avoidance. Desensitization does not work.
 
Article
Family physicians should take advantage of each contact with smokers to encourage and support smoking cessation. Once a patient is identified as a smoker, tools are available to assess readiness for change. Using motivational interviewing techniques, the physician can help the patient move from the precontemplation stage through the contemplation stage to the preparation stage, where plans are made for the initiation of nicotine replacement and/or bupropion therapy when indicated. Continued motivational techniques and support are needed in the action stage, when the patient stops smoking. Group or individual behavioral counseling can facilitate smoking cessation and improve quit rates. Combined use of behavioral and drug therapies can dramatically improve the patient's chance of quitting smoking. A plan should be in place for recycling the patient through the appropriate stages if relapse should occur.
 
Article
Prescribing medications for a breast-feeding mother requires weighing the benefits of medication use for the mother against the risk of not breast-feeding the infant or the potential risk of exposing the infant to medications. A drug that is safe for use during pregnancy may not be safe for the nursing infant. The transfer of medications into breast milk depends on a concentration gradient that allows passive diffusion of nonionized, non-protein-bound drugs. The infant's medication exposure can be limited by prescribing medications to the breast-feeding mother that are poorly absorbed orally, by avoiding breast-feeding during times of peak maternal serum drug concentration and by prescribing topical therapy when possible. Mothers of premature or otherwise compromised infants may require altered dosing to avoid drug accumulation and toxicity in these infants. The most accurate and up-to-date sources of information, including Internet resources and telephone consultations, should be used.
 
Article
Patients with tubo-ovarian abscess usually present with pain and fever. Pelvic examination discloses adnexal tenderness or a mass. For unruptured tubo-ovarian abscess, antibiotics that provide anaerobic coverage and are capable of penetrating the abscess should be given. If there is no improvement in 48 to 72 hours, conservative surgery should be performed, preserving hormonal and reproductive function, if possible.
 
Article
Growth in the primary care physician workforce (physicians per capita) in the United States has trailed the growth of the specialist physician population in recent years. This has occurred despite calls during the same period for increased production of primary care physicians and educational reforms focusing on primary care.
 
Article
Diagnosis depends on examination of mucosal biopsy specimens taken by a biopsy tube of the Wood type. Uncomplicated gastritis causes no symptoms. The clinical importance of the disease depends on its complications, which may be very serious: hemorrhage from erosions, pernicious anemia, pancreatic maldigestion, gastric polyposis and gastric carcinoma.
 
Article
Each year, more than one million American travelers develop diarrhea, usually due to toxin-producing Escherichia coli. Traveler's diarrhea can be prevented with bismuth subsalicylate or doxycycline, but neither is suitable for pediatric patients. Trimethoprim-sulfamethoxazole is effective for prophylaxis and treatment in adults. It is also safe for children and may prove to be efficacious. It may be possible to avoid widespread prophylaxis and to give medication only if diarrhea develops.
 
Article
Graduates of U.S. allopathic schools have filled less than one half of the family medicine positions offered in the National Resident Matching Program (NRMP) Match since 2001. Overall fill rates in July have been relatively stable at approximately 94 percent. Family medicine has become reliant on international medical graduates (IMGs), who in 2004 made up 38 percent of first-year residents.
 
Article
The new office evaluation and management codes require an understanding of definitions that have been recently created by the Current Procedural Terminology (CPT) Editorial Panel. Code selection is based on seven components; the three key components are the history, the physical examination and medical decision making. Office visit codes are divided into five levels of visits, based on service. New-patient office visits require all three key components for any level visit; established-patient office visits require only two of the three components. The new office code descriptions were created to assist physicians in code selections. Only when counseling or coordination of care dominates the visit (e.g., more than 50 percent) is time to be considered a controlling factor. Physicians are urged not to code only from time descriptors. The 1992 CPT book will list only the new evaluation and management codes, deleting the old level-of-service codes. Physicians are encouraged to contact local insurance carriers to ensure that they will also be using the new codes in 1992.
 
Article
The recent report of the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force is a compendium of the scientific evidence supporting clinical preventive services that might be offered by primary care physicians. Pediatric recommendations include height, weight and blood pressure measurements, neonatal screening for hemoglobinopathies and counseling about injury prevention, diet and exercise, sexual behavior, substance abuse and dental health. Lead screening is recommended in communities with a high prevalence of elevated lead levels. Adult recommendations include measurement of blood pressure and weight, selective screening for elevated total cholesterol level, screening persons over age 50 for colorectal cancer, screening women for cervical cancer at least every three years, and screening women 50 to 69 years of age for breast cancer with mammography every one to two years. Counseling patients about substance abuse, diet and exercise, injury prevention, sexual behavior and dental health is recommended. Women of childbearing age should receive folic acid supplementation to prevent neural tube defects if they should become pregnant. Multiple marker testing is recommended for women over age 35 to screen for Down syndrome. Immunization recommendations are similar to those of other national groups.
 
Article
In patients with coronary artery disease and severe ischemia, angioplasty and coronary artery bypass surgery have been shown to reduce symptoms, improve functional capacity and, in some patients, prolong life. Six major randomized trials have recently been reported comparing bypass surgery with angioplasty in patients with multivessel coronary disease. Uniformly, these studies demonstrate an equal mortality and reinfarction rate over five years of follow-up. Patients with angioplasties needed a repeat procedure during follow-up far more frequently than patients with bypass needed an additional bypass procedure (30 to 40 percent versus 5 to 10 percent). Although angioplasty was initially less costly, over five years the costs for the two procedures were similar. Mortality rates decreased by twofold when patients with diabetes mellitus were treated with bypass surgery rather than angioplasty. These studies confirm that in nondiabetic patients, bypass surgery and angioplasty are equally effective in the treatment of severe coronary disease. In diabetic patients with severe disease, however, bypass surgery is favored.
 
Top-cited authors
Marjorie Golden
  • Yale-New Haven Hospital
Russell Searight
  • Lake Superior State University
Mark Herbert Ebell
  • University of Georgia
Joel J Heidelbaugh
  • University of Michigan
Brian V Reamy
  • Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences