OB/Gyn for women only

Okay, that title should not be surprising.  Sure, gynecologists specialize in women, but should they really be denied board certification just because they also at times treat male patients?  Seems nuts to me, but that’s the position of the American Board of Obstetrics and Gynecology and it is actually a serious threat to the health of men who suffer from anal cancer (yes, awkward, but it’s real).  Turns out gynecologists simply have the most skill and expertise in treating this problem in men as well as women, but now they’re governing board is forbidding them from treating men:

About two months ago, Dr. Elizabeth Stier was shocked to learn that she would lose a vital credential, board certification as a gynecologist, unless she gave up an important part of her medical practice and her research: taking care of men at high risk for anal cancer.

The disease is rare, but it can be fatal and its incidence is increasing, especially among men and women infected with H.I.V. Like cervical cancer, anal cancer is usually caused by the human papillomavirus, or HPV, which is sexually transmitted…

Though most of her patients are women, Dr. Stier, who works at Boston Medical Center, also treated about 110 men last year, using techniques adapted from those developed to screen women for cervical cancer.

But in September, the American Board of Obstetrics and Gynecology insisted that its members treat only women, with few exceptions, and identified the procedure in which Dr. Stier has expertise as one that gynecologists are not allowed to perform on men. Doctors cannot ignore such directives from a specialty board, because most need certification to keep their jobs.

Now Dr. Stier’s studies are in limbo, her research colleagues are irate, and her male patients are distraught. Other gynecologists who had translated their skills to help male patients are in similar straits.

And researchers about to start a major clinical trial that is aimed at preventing anal cancer, with $5.6 million from the National Cancer Institute, say the board’s decision will keep some of the best qualified, most highly skilled doctors in the United States from treating male patients in the study. The director of the planned study and Dr. Stier have asked the gynecology board to reconsider its position.

But the board, based in Dallas, has not budged.

This just seems crazy to me.  Would a cardiologist lose his certification simply because he also happened to treat some patients with lung issues– regardless of his skill as a cardiologist?

Dr. Larry C. Gilstrap, the group’s executive director, said the specialty of obstetrics and gynecology was specifically designed to treat problems of the female reproductive tract and was “restricted to taking care of women.” Of the 24 medical specialties recognized in the United States, he said, it is the only one that is gender-specific, and it has been that way since 1935.

Dr. Stier said that she, like many other doctors, had not understood the definition of their field to be quite so absolute.

It seems that if a doctor shows expertise in treating women’s health issues they should be board certified and that’s that.  The fact that they also have the ability to treat other issues (i.e., men) does not take away from that at all.  This just strikes me as completely wrongheaded.  OB/gyn’s heal thyselves.

Photo of the day

From the Telegraph’s Photos of the Week.

meteor appears in Selfie
Photographer Scott Rinckenberger wanted to capture a picture of himself and a friend on their last night of camping in the California wilderness. But when Scott set the timer on his camera and scurried back to his camping stool he had no idea that a meteor would explode at exactly the right time and in the correct place in his picture.Picture: Scott Rinckenberger/REX

Map of the day

Via Amazing Maps, most popular baby names in Europe.  I do like the symmetry in the UK with Oliver and Olivia.

Quick hits

Lots of good stuff this week…

1) My discussion sections had some great discussion about a photographer’s first amendment right not to photograph a same-sex wedding.

2) Sarah Palin and the war on Christmas.  Also, this is pure awesomeness.

3) A data-driven strategy for winding out where Waldo is hiding.

4) MOOC purveyor Udacity admits that MOOC’s don’t actually work:

Last Thursday, Fast Company Magazine put out a story (hagiography?) on Thrun, which contained some staggering statements from the man himself, including:

(on looking at data on drop-outs) “We don’t educate people as others wished, or as I wished. We have a lousy product”.

(on providing remedial education) “These were students from difficult neighborhoods, without good access to computers, and with all kinds of challenges in their lives… it’s a group for which this medium is not a good fit”.

(on the value of Udacity courses) “We’re not doing anything as rich and powerful as what a traditional liberal-arts education would offer you”.

From a guy who cockily said he was on the verge of finding a “magic formula” for education, and that by 2060, thanks to MOOCs, there would only be 10 universities, this is some funny stuff.

5) North Carolina may be on the way to having a megalopolis

6) Does your dog really like you?  Maybe no.

7) Professor refused to extend due date and writes awesome letter to students about it.

8) Giant jet lands at wrong airport by mistake.  An airport that it may be too big to safely take off from.

9) A data visualization on gun deaths.

10) Sticking with the gun theme, a look at the issue from a perspective of a gun dealer.

11) Doctors are a lot smarter about dying in their own lives than when it comes to their patients.  We so over-medicalize death in America and it’s not good for anyone.

12) Time for women combat Marines.  They don’t pass the training course at the same rate as men, but some of them are passig.

13) Why should you be most scared of the next Republican president?  They havoc he will wreak with the judiciary.  Man, these guys are nuts.  Scary stuff.

14) M. Night Shyamalan wrote a book on education (it’s probably better he is writing books rather than screenplays).  Sound interesting.  He says small class sizes are a false hope (hey, I know somebody else who’s written about that).  Most interesting?  His answer to the root of the problems in education:

Where do you think the achievement gap come from? How did American public schools get to where they are today?

This is opinion, so now we are getting into opinion. It’s racism. It’s racism. Ultimately, and we all have it, a form of it in us, it’s there, it’s in the genetic code of the country … If you took out the schools in the United States that have high poverty, if you took those inner-city schools out, and you just looked all the other public schools in the United States, we lead the world in education. We crush Finland. So we’re doing a good job for those kids. So what color are those kids? They are predominantly white. The inner-city kids are predominantly African-American and Hispanic. We are failing that group and we are doing great for this other group. … And so it’s that there is apathy. There’s a latent feeling like it probably can’t get figured out. So you’re approaching it like its not possible to figure it out.

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