It takes adjustment and patience. That sounds like rheumatology. But for Fred Murphy, DO, FACP, FACR, it also defines his other career—drink inventor. From a drink for the whole family to another he claims helps hangovers, creating beverages is a challenge he relishes. “It’s fun to see what I can come up with next,” he says. “You need to try different things.”
Patient Care & Clinical Trials
Trying different things also is a philosophy Dr. Murphy and his practice, the Altoona Arthritis & Osteoporosis Center, Duncansville, Pa., try to embrace, he says. After all, not many practices have a sleep study area as part of their offerings. “A good [number] of rheumatology patients are actually struggling because of sleep apnea,” he says. “We had one gentleman who had to take a nap just to do the eight-minute drive from work to home. We put him in a study here and found out restless leg syndrome had been keeping him up for years. It led to a major improvement. If we had wanted to do a study and had him go to a separate sleep clinic, I think it might have been months before there would have been a spot for him.”
Clinical trials are also a major focal point for the practice, which currently has more than 100 in progress. For some patients, Dr. Murphy points out, participating could be a benefit beyond what their insurance covers. At the front end, patients are asked if participating in a trial is something of interest to them, and it’s their call if the discussion ends there.
A typical day for Dr. Murphy sees patient appointments starting at 7:30 and running at about four to five an hour. His philosophy throughout the day is to listen closely to the people of his region, those he characterizes as extremely hard working.
“This is Western Pennsylvania, and there are many hunters and those who like to fish,” he says. “These are people who will push themselves to work and keep up the house. But, when they’re having rheumatology problems, they’ll stop doing their outdoor activities first. If I hear they’ve stopped, I know what they’re probably not telling me. I need to make them feel comfortable to make changes to help.”