Doctors of Osteopathy.

If faced w/ a life threatening disease, would you be comfortable w/ a D.O.?
I am facing oncology treatment for lung cancer. I was referred to a oncologist and was not impressed in my initial visit. I had already pretty much made up my mind to seek another care facility, when I discovered that the “oncologist” was a D.O., this seemed to solidify my decision, but I’d like some feedback. Am I being judgemental based on outdated/incorrect info.?
I’ve done some reading online about MD’s vs DO’s and I’m interested in some candid comments, positive, or negative from my fellow dopers.

My primary care physician is a D.O.

I’ve trusted him for several years. He’s been right on the money with several diagnoses. Don’t let it worry you.

Check him out, though, just as you would any doctor.

You grew up in a time when D.O.'s were not as well trained as they are today. (I looked at your profile.) Since the mid-late 1960’s, D.O.'s and M.D.'s have to pass the same licensing test to practice medicine. And often share the same specialty training programs. So I doubt that your D.O. oncologist is not qualified to treat your cancer.

But there may be personality issues, and degrees of expertise in specific areas that could be factors in M.D’s or D.O.'s- both degrees are held by human beings. You were not impressed with the doctor before you knew his training. Find someone else that you do feel comfortable with.

I am a D.O., licensed to practice medicine in the State of Texas for the last 27 years. I am board certified in Family Practice for the past 24 years, by the American Board of Family Practice, who certifies M.D.'s and D.O.'s. I did my family practice training in the U.S. Air Force with other M.D.'s and D.O.'s and we were all held to the same standards.

I have ongoing spinal issues and have since I was a kid. I had a nasty surgery and have needed ongoing care. My favorite doctor that I’ve seen was an Osteopath. He seemed to focus a lot more on my entire health rather than just on exactly what was going on with my back. He just really seemed to treat the whole body rather than the parts.

I just realized last year that my Family Practice doctor is a D.O. I have no idea what he could possibly be doing that is any different than any other doctor I’ve been to in the last 50 years.

Thanks to you, and all who have responded. There is a “personality conflict” and I think that I am going to seek care elswhere. You’re probably right about the age thing, but I’m still wary that the a D.O. may have some philosophical differences in their approach to science.
This is a tough time for me and I’m having enough difficulty coping w/ the diagnosis w/o dealing in personality issues.
Any more comments would be appreciated.

As a medical student myself, personally I would look at where a doctor did his residency rather than focusing on his medical school. Residency is where doctors really learn their specialty and refine their skills, and it says something about how they performed in school. Personally, I would rather be treated by a DO who was the top student in their school than a Harvard student who was the bottom student of their class.
However, in this case, I would say it doesn’t really matter what this doctor’s qualifications are. If you don’t feel comfortable with him, I definitely think you are right to get a second opinion. My recommendation would be to try to get a second opinion at a major university-affiliated cancer center if possible, since in this sort of situation it would be best to talk to someone who is on top of what the latest research is, and may know about clinical trials that would be beneficial for you to participate in (clinical trials often are the best way to get access to new treatments that have promise for serious conditions like this).
I definitely wish you well with your treatments and hope you find a doctor you feel good about. :slight_smile:

I’m curious as to where this is coming from, or more importantly, what philosophical differences do you have in mind?

I’ve known a lot of MDs and DOs. If I took 10 of each at random, hid their name badges, and asked you to tell me who was who, I’d defy anyone to beat the average.

Just wanted to wish you well in your treatment, whatever course you decide to choose!

My opinions are purely subjective. In earlier years, when it wasn’t a personal issue, I probably developed the idea that DO’'s were short circuiting the path to becoming a medical doctor and I still believe that may be true in some cases. Whether my thinking is dated is the question at hand. Osteopathy still seems to have it’s basis in homeopathy, which I reject as a legitmate science. Taking that into consideration, I have to entertain some doubt as to whether I want to be treated by a practitioner of osteopathy. The consenus seems to be that DO’s are currently the equal of MD’s, but I still harbor the idea that their philosophical roots may be important in their attitude toward treatment.
That aside, I am going to seek treatment elsewhere. I was originally led to that decision by my opinion of my first meeting w/ the doctor, who happens to be female. It was after I was giving serious consideration to rejecting her that I learned that she was a D.O.
This is a very serious decision for me and I’m just trying to make sure I’m being as objective as possible, afterall, my life is on the line.

Thank you, it’s some serious shit and this kind of confusion is really the last thing I need right now. I’m not a stranger to bureaucracy, but it can be a real PITA sometimes.

Bottom line, you’re not 100% comfortable you can trust this person to give you the best care. That’s OK, you’re allowed to do that.

May I make a suggestion?
If your area has a local cancer support group, it might be the best place to get honest opinions about who would be the best oncologist for you. Not everyone wants the same thing from their oncologist, but if you don’t think you’re getting what you need, walk away.

This is completely untrue, as far as I can tell. Homeopathy is bunkum, no doubt, but Osteopathy only shares the last 7 letters with it.

Since your premise is somewhat faulty, I would have a problem with your conclusion. But this isn’t necessarily about logic. If you feel uncomfortable with your doctor for any reason, you should look for a new one. Having complete trust in your dr is very important, especially right now. Go with your gut, it’s not worth worrying about when you have more important concerns.

I have no problem with an osteopath doing the medical stuff, but I’d be wary of one working as a surgeon. Osteopaths, by education, focus more on the workings of the body than an MD.

Not that there could not be good osteopath surgeons, just the educational focus is somewhat contradictory…

As I understand it, there are philosophical differences in MDs and DOs, in that DOs are generally taught from a more holistic perspective - treat the patient, not the disease or the symptoms.

Aside from that, I believe they have essentially the same training.

However, your dislike and discomfort with the physician is ample grounds for finding a different doctor. My spouse walked out on one doctor based on similar bad feelings, and it was probably one of the best decisions we made (according to information we got later).

You’re about to embark on something that will be difficult enough if everything goes perfectly. Your attitude and comfort with your physician can make a huge difference in your attitude and comfort with your treatment, which can make a huge difference in how well it works for you.

My sympathies on your situation and best wishes for successful treatment.

[QUOTE=A.R. Cane]
Osteopathy still seems to have it’s basis in homeopathy,"
This is totally untrue. Wikipedia has a nice article about the founder of Osteopathic medicine, Dr. Andrew Taylor Still (Trained as you will read as an MD in his time)

" philosophical roots may be important in their attitude toward treatment".
Yes, I think the philosophical roots are different. As an osteopathic physician, I believe that the body is inherently able to heal itself. My role as a physician is to maximize that natural healing ability. I don’t just treat disease, I treat the whole person. I am concerned about disease, nutrition, social factors, environmental factors. And how the muscles, bones, nerves, lymphatics impact on the healing process.

I have food allergies. If I eat too much of something I am allergic to, I will get sinus congestion that will lead to a sinus infection. I take Allegra, an antihistamine, to decrease the allergic response. I take Zithromax, an antibiotic, to treat the infection. (like an MD would do) But I also do specific lymphatic drainage techniques on my face and neck that dramatically reduce the congestion and pressure that I feel. If I start the lymphatic drainage techniques early enough and often enough, I can sometimes keep the infection from getting started. So I do whatever I can to achieve the desired result-healing and relief of symptoms.
In that sense, Osteopathic medicine has MORE to offer because there are techniques you can use to enhance the healing of the body. But they take time and are not “high tech”, and people want fast and fancy.

I got my MD from Johns Hopkins, but in residency, I trained with a number of DOs, and even had some of them take care of my family members and myself in the past.

I wouldn’t discriminate based on the DO degree. Not of they’re qualified in their post-doc training. Personality is another, valid issue.

My father is an M.D., his partner is a D.O. Dad’s been practicing for over 30 years now, Joe just got his credentials, what, 5 or 6 years ago. Joe was required to take the exact same exams and is held to the exact same standards as any M.D., including my dad (best Dr. in the world!). Your D.O.'s credentials are definitely sound.

When I posted earlier that not everyone wants the same thing from their oncologist, perhaps I should clarify.

Some people want someone who is brutally honest.
Some people want someone who is optimistic no matter what.
Some people want to continue with aggressive treatment, no matter how slim the chance of success.
Some people want someone who will say “enough is enough”.
Some people are happy to try experimental treatments, some people aren’t.

Decide what you need from your oncologist, talk to other patients and find out their experiences, and then you’ll be able to have a better idea who shares your approach and goals.

Still, if you’re not “gelling” with this woman, it may be a heads up that you need to look elsewhere, M.D or D.O not withstanding.