“Recent studies confirm increasing patient confusion regarding the many types of health care providers, including physicians, technicians, nurses, physician assistants and other allied providers, engaged in providing services in the health care setting,” the letter stated. “Ambiguous provider nomenclature and related advertisements and marketing are exacerbating patient uncertainty.”
Physician supporters of the legislation point to a recently released American Medical Association-sponsored survey of 850 adults. The survey found, for example, that 30 percent of respondents believe audiologists are medical doctors, and only 43 percent correctly identified otolaryngologists as physicians.
The fact that many patients don’t know that otolaryngologists are physicians is “very frightening,” said Paul M. Imber, DO, chairman of the American Academy of Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery (AAO-HNS) Legislative Representatives Committee and member of the AAO-HNS Board of Governors Executive Committee. “But what is even more of an issue is that a lot of people are out there marketing themselves as doctors, and they are doctors by degree but not physicians. It can be very confusing to the public.”