From the BBC
GPs with a poor record in spotting signs of cancer could be publicly named under new government plans.
Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt wants to expose doctors whose failure to spot cancer may delay sending patients for potentially life-saving scans.
Labour called the idea "desperate" and accused Mr Hunt of attacking doctors.
The Royal College of GPs said it would be a "crude" system and one that could lead to GPs sending people to specialists indiscriminately.
It warned this could result in flooding hospitals with healthy people.
Which is, actually, what we should be doing. Why go to the monkey, instead of the organ grinder?
I caught a few minutes of the Jeremy Vine show where a former cancer sufferer and someone from the BMA were on and talking about how GPs thought her cancer was IBS, or gallstones. When she got to see a pancreatic specialist, he immediately rushed her into surgery. And it turns out that part of the problem is that some cancers in some areas are very rare, which means that GPs, along with handing out antibiotics for chest infections and prescriptions for the pill and signing passport forms are expected to spot that.
I mostly work on the back end of things. I can do a bit of the web design stuff too. But what I know is that if I get a problem in that area, it's going to take a lot longer for me to fix say, something not appearing right in Internet Explorer 8 than a couple of friends that are full-time web designers and instantly know what the problem is. It's not because they're smarter than me - it's because they've been specially trained in those bugs or maybe seen it before, or their boss did, or something else.
15 years ago, you could do the whole job. There was 1 browser to worry about, no-one worried about disabled users, SEO or Russian bots that were hacking websites at random. As things got more complicated, we increased specialisation.
The point I'm trying to make is that for all the "GPs must do this better", that isn't going to work. GPs have a limited amount of time each day and limited experience in fields of medical diagnosis as they're expected to cover everything. They simply aren't going to get the training or experience that tells them that something that on the surface might be a gall stone might be a cancer. Because they're only seeing a few cases of what sounds like gall stones each week, and very few of those are cancer.
On the other hand, if all you do each day is look at possible gallstones, you can either be specially trained to look for cancers, or else, you'll gain the experience of symptoms that means you can make a rapid diagnosis.
So, the real answer here isn't to red flag cancers, it's to get rid of most GPs and train up specialists earlier in various areas of the body. People who can be specially trained in one area, people who can gain knowledge and experience in a particular area.
Monday, 30 June 2014
From the BBC
My latest blogpost: GPs spotting CancerTweet this! Posted by The Stigler at 13:35