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Which of these is not a physician: MD, DO, DDS, ENT? Patients Unsure.

Patients want docs to have primary responsibility for their health care, but they aren’t entirely sure exactly who is a physician.  That’s according to an AMA survey of patients regarding proposed Truth In Advertising legislation, which would require health care advertisements to clearly designate the qualifications of the health care professional promoting their services.

“Although 90 percent of those surveyed said that a medical doctor’s additional years of education and training are vital to optimal patient care, the survey found much confusion about the qualifications of health care professionals,” said AMA Board Member Rebecca Patchin, M.D.

The survey presented a list of specialties and asked “Is this person a medical doctor?”.  Patients were most confused by the “Otolaryngologist/ENT” specialty as only 43% of those surveyed identified ENTs as physicians.  The remaining 57% either said “no” or “unsure” for ENTs.  Conversely, 69% of those surveyed positively identified dentists as physicians.  Even nurse practitioners (which has the word “nurse” in the title) and midwives were identified as physicians.

The Healthcare Truth and Transparency Act of 2011, last week introduced in the House of Representatives, seeks “to ensure that patients receive accurate health care information by prohibiting misleading and deceptive advertising or representation in the provision of health care services, and to require the identification of the license of health care professionals.”

“This bill empowers patients,” said Mark A. Warner, M.D., president of the American Society of Anesthesiologists.  “Patients need access to accurate and complete information to make educated healthcare choices.

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