Shortage = Dire Patient Consequences
Sarah Doaty, MD, a rheumatologist in Alaska and a former member of the ACR’s Government Affairs Committee, says that she is confident the ACR is doing all it can to find solutions. The shortage can have devastating consequences for patients, she says.
“Part of the challenge in treating patients where there is a shortage of providers is that patients are often presenting with more advanced disease, and it’s hard to get patients to achieve remission,” says Dr. Doaty, who has a patient who lives about two hours away—by plane—because there is no closer rheumatologist.
She says patients are often taking only anti-inflammatory drugs for years, because the primary care physicians managing their conditions are uncomfortable prescribing disease-modifying drugs.
“There’s just no way,” she says, that “[primary care physicians] can keep up with all the classification criteria and the guidelines.”
Tom Collins is a freelance writer living in South Florida.