Sunday, November 13, 2011

Is maternity care still part of the family medicine continuum?

"Family doctors can deliver babies?" That's a common reaction I get when chatting with people (whether non-medical friends or medical students). And my answer is always an adamant "YES!"

But the reality now is that fewer and fewer family physicians are choosing to provide maternity care as part of their scope of practice. The most recently presented data shows that, as of 2010, only 10% of family physicians provide maternity care - down from 23% in 2000 (1). "So what?", you may ask. We have enough OB/GYNs in this country - they can do prenatal care and deliver babies. We don't need family doctors to do that.

The problem is that OB/GYNs are not well distributed across the country. Take a look at the county map below - all the red counties are the counties without a single OB/GYN doctor. That's like 50% of counties in the USA.