Battling Obesity

With costs to treat obesity-related illnesses soaring and the outlook grim for the nation's children, forward-looking physicians see a bright future for bariatrics.

By Cindy Murphy McMahon | 411 | July/August 2005


Sally was in her late 40s and moved slowly as she walked into her physician’s office. Her gait was more like a waddle as she shifted her weight back and forth with each step. She was tired beyond her years, and most of all, she was disgusted. She was disgusted with herself for weighing more than 300 pounds, and she was angry with the medical community. Taking several medications for hypertension, diabetes type 2, a lipid disorder, and osteoarthritis, Sally was bordering on desperation.

This visit to a physician was different, however. She was seeing a bariatrician, a physician who specializes in the treatment of obesity. Working with her doctor, Peter Vash, MD, of Los Angeles, within six weeks Sally was able to reduce her hypertension medications by 50 percent, eliminate one of the diabetes meds, and reduce her osteoarthritis prescription, all the while sleeping better and walking easier.

“Her quality of life dramatically improved,” Vash says of the woman he calls a typical bariatric medicine patient. “She began to have an outward look of optimism and hope.” more »



Make a Great Catch

When hiring a colleague, it's not enough to respect clinical skills and have similar philosophies about caring for patients. You have to connect on that hard-to-define level called "fit."

By Christine Hinz | 411 | May/June 2004


It didn’t take Fredric Serota, MD, and Jo Ann Serota, a pediatric nurse practitioner, long to realize that they hadn’t hired the right person for their Ambler, Pennsylvania pediatrics group. On paper, the physician certainly looked impressive. With a PhD in microbiology, he’d obviously honed his scientific skills before going off to medical school. But the ink had barely dried on their one-year contract when the Serotas saw a spoiler in their midst. Instead of feeling his way and learning their system, he came in with his own agenda, ready to make change. “He alienated everyone,” says Jo Ann Serota. “He felt he knew more than the rest of us.”

Perhaps you’ve had the same chilling realization. Hiring competent professionals who will be the right “fit” for your practice is the most challenging management task you’ll ever face. You want colleagues adept in their clinical skills and attuned to your philosophy of medicine. But they should also mesh with your group. Obviously, there’s no foolproof system for selecting the professionals—doctors, physician’s assistants (PAs) or nurse practitioners (NPs)—on your staff. Gut instincts may give you a heads-up, but letting intuition alone drive your decision-making could hook you a misfit who knows how to ace an interview. As Fredric Serota observes of the doctor he hired: “He was more of a laboratory type. He really didn’t have the fiber to be a general pediatrician.” more »


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