The upside of dermatology delays

January 15, 2007

I posted last week on the delays Boston-area patients face in obtaining an appointment with a dermatologist. A superficial analysis suggests waits may be shorter in England.

A couple new points came up over the weekend:

The Globe published a response by Dr. Kathryn Bowers, President of the MA Academy of Dermatology. Her assessment wasn’t especially encouraging.

Most dermatologists train their office staff to identify patients with an urgent problem and attempt to fit them into the schedule as soon as possible. With doctors fully booked and, frequently, overbooked, this is often not feasible.

That’s a pretty sad admission. She also laments the “brain drain” of dermatologists who train in MA but then move elsewhere because of the difficult practice environment. I’m sympathetic to the challenges of practicing in MA, however the original article reported that Boston had the highest concentration of dermatologists of any city surveyed and the longest wait for an appointment. There must be other factors at work.
Meanwhile, a friend who is a dermatology resident in Boston confirmed the long waiting lists for an appointment at his institution, then told me:

It’s just as well that there’s a long wait. Someone who comes in with a rash is likely to be biopsied and end up with a scar. If they wait until an appointment is available the rash will probably have cleared up.

I told him that tolerating long waiting times was an awfully blunt approach to reducing unnecessary biopsies!

2 thoughts on “The upside of dermatology delays”

  1. re: “difficult practice environment”

    What’s the status of the medical malpractice lawsuit business in Mass.?

    i.e., do your tort lawyers have one, or three, Lexus in their garage?

  2. By “difficult practice environment” I meant a combination of things including housing costs, reimbursement levels, and costs of running a practice. The malpractice situation isn’t as bad as it is in many other states. Juries are skeptical of claims and the carriers tend to defend their insured physicians fairly aggressively.

    With the cost of parking, usually 2 Lexii is the limit.

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