AMA: Patients Lack Education on Physician Credentials

Cheryl Clark, for HealthLeaders Media , January 26, 2011

In 2008, 94% of respondents correctly knew that an orthopedic surgeon or an orthopedist is a medical doctor, but in 2010, only 84% answered that question correctly.

The AMA's survey found that 11% do not think that only medical doctors should be able to perform facial surgery such as face lifts and nose shaping and 30% do not think that only medical doctors should be able to administer and monitor anesthesia levels and patient conditions before and after surgery.

Nearly one-third also said they believe providers other than medical doctors should be able to commit individuals for psychiatric care against their will.

The survey also revealed that those sampled overwhelmingly believe that only licensed medical doctors should be able to use the title "physician," (93%), and support legislation in their states to require advertising materials clearly designate the provider's level of skill, education and training, (87%).

But only half said they find it is easy to identify who is a licensed M.D. and who is not by reading what services they offer in their advertising or marketing materials.

Cheryl Clark is senior quality editor and California correspondent for HealthLeaders Media. She is a member of the Association of Health Care Journalists.
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