Have you ever wondered why some doctors have D.O. after their names and not M.D.? Is it a distinction without a difference?
M.D.s are what most people think of when they are talking about a physician, and certainly, they are more prevalent in the West. M.D. stands for medical doctor (or Doctor of Medicine), and they practice a type of medicine that is known as allopathic. M.D.s treat disease symptoms using drugs and surgeries, and tend to specialize in specific fields of medicine such as cardiology or orthopedics.
In the United States alone, 67.4% of practicing physicians are M.D.s, and each of them has taken the United States Medical Licensing Exam (USMLE) in order to start their career as a physician. D.O.s are fully licensed in the West, but they are found more commonly in the East. D.O.s practice holistic medicine and have a “whole person” approach to treatment; they believe everything in the body is intricately connected.
D.O.s are trained to consider a patient’s environment, nutrition, and body system as a whole when diagnosing and treating medical conditions. They treat the person as a whole not just their individual symptoms or injuries. D.O. medical schools require 200-plus hours of manipulation training on top of regular medical coursework, they receive training in OMT (Osteopathic Manipulative Treatment), and to practice in medicine, they must pass the COMLEX-USA exam (Comprehensive Osteopathic Medical Licensing Exam); 56 percent of D.O.s practice in primary care such as family medicine, general internal medicine, and pediatrics.
When it comes to patient care, these distinctions may not make a difference. M.D.s and D.O.s share many important qualities and qualifications. Both base their diagnosis and treatment recommendations on conclusions that have been proven by science. They both can practice in all 50 states and are fully licensed by the American Medical Association. They follow the same educational path, with some small variations. Four years of undergrad, with a premed track, MCATs, four years of medical school, then up to seven years of internship and residency depending upon their particular program. Both M.D.s and D.O.s are equally and fully qualified. Most importantly when it comes to patient care, no matter if your doctor is an M.D. or D.O., the same standard of care applies. The bottom line is, when we step into the doctor’s office, we expect to receive the best care possible by those most qualified to treat us and care for our well-being.
At Scartelli Olszewski, P.C., we investigate claims of medical malpractice against M.D.s and D.O.s whose medical treatment is below the standard of care and causes serious and permanent harm or wrongful death. When a trip to the doctor or hospital turns into a nightmare, it does not matter if your physician is an M.D. or a D.O.
If you or someone you know has been injured due to the negligence of a physician who was not competent or qualified, contact the Scranton and Wilkes-Barre attorneys at Scartelli Olszewski, P.C., and your case will be investigated by a team of personal injury professionals who can best handle your case.
Rachel D. Olszewski, an attorney at Scartelli Olszewski, P.C., is a dedicated advocate for clients who have suffered unjust harm. Following the legacy of her esteemed family members, Rachel specializes in personal injury, medical malpractice, and criminal defense. She is actively involved in professional associations and serves on the board of the Luzerne County Bar Association Charitable Foundation. Rachel is admitted to practice in Pennsylvania state courts and the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Pennsylvania.
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