Finding your doctor through their published case reports

Had a very interesting communication from a BMJ Case Reports author who was contacted by a patient’s family because the patient was suffering from a similar condition to that which the author had just published.

This raises interesting points about the role of the medical literature and the increasing ability of patients and their relatives to research the professional credibility of doctors. This is the modern world but it is it new? Before the Internet patients and relatives would contact by telephone or fax and before the telephone they would probably have written a letter. They always travel if they think the doctor has particular expertise.

There is a limitation of course since you may very well find a doctor with expertise but they may be in another continent and your selective research may have missed a world authority in your local hospital.

Another aspect of this is the networking between the authors themselves. Finding others with similar clinical interests and in publishing their work could lead to the exchange of information and collaboration.

  • Perhaps in a future modern world (hopefully not post modern)patients would be searching for physicians after going through physician’s online portfolios (that would contain their published expertise in dealing with individual cases). I am not sure if this is being done at present.

    The BMJ case reports journal has initiated an important physician trend towards publishing, sharing and discussing (as you point out) and this may eventually go a long way toward building physician portfolios on a large scale. The physician expertise in their individual portfolios that would accumulate in the form of their case reports may be validated through independant academic bodies (perhaps even BMJ?) as a part of CME credits perhaps?

    Also published case reports in the BMJ database may serve as important raw material for development of case based reasoning frameworks either through AI (artificial intelligence) or maybe initially to start with HI (human intelligence).

    Hope to develop this dicussion further.