WHO: Doctors Not Always No. 1 When It Comes to Care

Midwives, nurse practitioners can be as good, better
By Arden Dier,  Newser Staff
Posted Nov 1, 2013 1:30 PM CDT
WHO: Doctors Not Always No. 1 When It Comes to Care
Nurse practitioners go over a patients chart at Ingalls Family Care Center in Flossmoor, Ill., Tuesday, June 4, 2013.   (AP Photo/M. Spencer Green)

(Newser) – Not only do midwives, nurse practitioners, and physician assistants do as good a job as doctors, they sometimes do better—and patients would agree, according to a World Health Organization bulletin. NBC News gives an example: When it comes to delivering babies, midwives use less drugs and perform fewer episiotomies than doctors, and the mother/child death-rate was no different among the two groups. Further, patients were often reported higher satisfaction with midwives.

The findings come from a review of 53 studies conducted over the last two decades that focused on the quality of care, and "debunk the myth that more extensive use of mid-level health workers might lead to services of poorer quality," the bulletin reads, per Science Codex. "The quality of care they provide is comparable to physicians." To boot, these mid-level health workers are cheaper, take less time to train, and are more willing to work in rural areas. It's a conclusion that all countries, including the US "can exploit," says the WHO; to wit, NBC News points out a shortfall of 90,000 doctors is predicted in the US by 2020. (Read more midwife stories.)

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