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Patients back GP assistants for injury care
THE vast majority of patients are more than willing to have injuries treated by physician’s assistants (PAs), new Australian research has revealed.
In a study of 225 Queensland patients, researchers proposed three different scenarios in which patients could choose to see a physician’s assistant in one hour, or wait four hours to see a fully qualified doctor.
Ninety-nine per cent of patients selected treatment by a PA – even when the waiting time difference was reduced from three hours to one. Just two patients surveyed were willing to wait longer for a doctor.
Hypothetical scenarios included an injured ankle, a serious laceration and a gash on the back of a child’s head.
Researchers noted that the acceptance of PAs was much higher than expected.
“Our work opens up the possibility that Australians may be receptive to use of team approaches to primary care – specifically using PAs,” researchers said.
However, they added that more research in the area of patient preferences in less urgent scenarios was needed.
Further expansion of the PA workforce has been opposed by the AMA and the Australian Medical Students Association. They argue the introduction of this new category of health professional could see scant training resources diverted from medical students and junior doctors.
AMJ 2010; 3:407-13