Functional Medicine Doctors

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      What Functional Medicine Doctors need to know

      Functional medicine, more a general approach to clinical medical care than a traditional medical specialty, is a young field based on the application of basic science to medicine. Functional medicine focuses on the underlying causes and prevention of disease in general, rather than on treating the symptoms of specific diseases. Proponents of functional medicine view the body as one integrated system, attempting to analyze how each component of the body interacts with the environment.

      The Institute for Functional Medicine is the primary organized body in the field. In its definition of functional medicine, the Institute lists core imbalances that can occur in the integrated system of the body. These include hormone and neurotransmitter imbalances, oxidation-reduction imbalances, immune imbalances and inflammatory imbalances. The key tool for treating these imbalances is the “patient story,” which clinicians can use to integrate diagnosis, signs and symptoms as well as evidence of imbalances, and then to provide treatment in order to correct the imbalances.

      Recently, some medical schools have taken a greater interest in teaching some aspects of functional medicine as well as other forms of alternative medicine. With more than 40 percent of Americans using some form of nontraditional medicine, medical schools including the University of California – San Francisco and the Loma Linda University School of Medicine have added electives in areas such as functional medicine. In 2006, the Institute for Functional Medicine became accredited to offer CME credit to physicians. The Institute can also offer AMA PRA Category 1 credit.

      Malpractice insurers do not typically recognize functional medicine as a unique specialty, so most practitioners of functional medicine would be classified as internists or primary care physicians. This means that medical malpractice insurance rates for physicians focusing on functional medicine will be relatively low, when compared to the higher rates paid by specialists like surgeons and obstetricians. Premiums vary widely among individuals based on factors like geographic location, hours worked per week, patients seen per week, previous claims history, specific procedures and treatments performed as well as other details of the practice. Medical malpractice insurance premiums are significantly higher in states where the legal climate is hostile and tort reform measures are not in place, such as the State of New York and The Sunshine State. Some studies suggest that physicians practicing functional medicine or other forms of nontraditional medicine may be less likely to be sued for malpractice. As further research becomes available, insurance companies may reevaluate the rates they charge to physicians in functional medicine.

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      This write-up for Functional Medicine Doctors was put together by Michael Matray, the Editor of the Medical Liability Monitor

      Important Resources for Functional Medicine Doctors

      Institute for Functional Medicine
      Functional Medicine Doctors Certified Practitioner Directory
      Functional Medicine Journal
      Science-Based Medicine
      The Academy of Functional Medicine and Genomics
      Understanding Functional Medicine
      American Board of Functional Medicine