Frequency and Criticality of Diagnoses in Family Medicine Practices: From the National Ambulatory Medical Care Survey (NAMCS)

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Abstract

Background:

Family medicine is a specialty of breadth, providing comprehensive health care for the individual and the family that integrates the broad scope of clinical, social, and behavioral sciences. As such, the scope of practice (SOP) for family medicine is extensive; however, over time many family physicians narrow their SOP. We sought to provide a nationally representative description of the most common and the most critical diagnoses that family physicians see in their practice.

Methods:

Data were extracted from the 2012 National Ambulatory Medical Care Survey (NAMCS) to select all ICD-9 codes reported by family physicians. A panel of family physicians then reviewed 1893 ICD-9 codes to place each code into an American Board of Family Medicine Family Medicine Certification Examination test plan specifications (TPS) category and provide a rating for an Index of Harm (IoH).

Results:

An analysis of all 1893 ICD-9 codes seen by family physicians in the 2012 NAMCS found that 198 ICD-9 codes could not be assigned a TPS category, leaving 1695 ICD-9 codes in the dataset. Top 10 lists of ICD-9 codes by TPS category were created for both frequency and IoH.

Conclusions:

This study provides a nationally representative description of the most common diagnoses that family physicians are seeing in their practice and the criticality of these diagnoses. These results provide insight into the domain of the specialty of family medicine. Medical educators may use these results to better tailor education and training to practice.

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