Common outpatient diagnoses and associated treatments logged by osteopathic medical students within a geriatric population

Hannah C. Coulson, DO; Miriam Brown, DO; Kyle Burke, DO; Emma Griffith, DO; Victoria Shadiack, DO; Harold R. Garner, PhD; and Jaime A. Foushee, PharmD
Notes and Affiliations
Notes and Affiliations

Received: December 23, 2022

Accepted: February 2, 2024

Published: April 22, 2024

  • Hannah C. Coulson, DO, 

    Pathologist at HCT Pathology Services, University of Maryland Shore Medical Center, Easton, MD, USA

  • Miriam Brown, DO, 

    Pathology, Microbiology, and Immunology Resident, Vanderbilt University Medical Center, Nashville, TN, USA

  • Kyle Burke, DO, 

    Family and Community Medicine Resident, Penn State Health, Hershey, PN, USA

  • Emma Griffith, DO, 

    Internal Medicine Resident, University of Florida College of Medicine-Jacksonville, Jacksonville, FL, USA

  • Victoria Shadiack, DO, 

    Assistant Chair Principles of Primary Care and OMM, Edward Via College of Osteopathic Medicine, Carolinas Campus, Spartanburg, SC, USA

  • Harold R. Garner, PhD, 

    Consultant, Illinois College of Osteopathic Medicine (proposed) at the Chicago School, Chicago, IL, USA

  • Jaime A. Foushee, PharmD, 

    Department Chair for Biomedical Sciences; Discipline Chair for Pharmacology and Associate Professor, Edward Via College of Osteopathic Medicine, Carolinas Campus, Spartanburg, SC, USA


Context: Clinical clerkships provide osteopathic medical students the opportunity to participate in the diagnosis and treatment of commonly encountered medical conditions. Appropriate management of these conditions may include pharmacotherapy and/or nonpharmacologic interventions, such as osteopathic manipulative treatment (OMT). Opportunities may exist to expand the utilization of OMT in the management of common conditions, particularly for geriatric patients, who are at increased risk for adverse outcomes from pharmacologic treatments.

Objectives: This study aimed to assess the most common diagnoses and corresponding treatments logged by osteopathic medical students within an ambulatory geriatric population.

Methods: Patient encounters logged electronically by osteopathic medical students were retrospectively reviewed to determine the most commonly reported diagnostic codes and their treatments. Logged interventions were filtered to include patients over the age of 65 years who were seen on family medicine rotations within an ambulatory setting. The top 10 diagnoses were sorted and assessed to determine the associated treatments, including medications, procedures, and OMT.

Results: Between January 2018 and June 2020, a total of 11,185 primary diagnoses were logged pertaining to the defined patient population. The most frequently documented diagnoses were essential hypertension (n=1,420; 12.7 %), encounter for well examination (n=1,144; 10.2 %), type 2 diabetes mellitus (n=837; 7.5 %), hyperlipidemia (n=346; 3.1 %), chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD; n=278; 2.5 %), osteoarthritis (OA; n=221; 2.0 %), low back pain (LBP; n=202; 1.8 %), pain in joint (n=187; 1.7 %), hypothyroidism (n=164; 1.5 %), and urinary tract infections (n=160; 1.4 %). Three of the top 10 logged diagnoses were musculoskeletal in nature (OA, LBP, and pain in joint). Pharmacotherapy was reported as the predominant treatment for musculoskeletal conditions, with OMT being logged as a treatment for 10.9 % (n=50) of those cases. The most commonly logged medication class in the management of patients with those musculoskeletal conditions was nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs; n=128; 27.9 %), while opioids were the second most frequently documented class of medications (n=65; 14.2 %).

Conclusions: Musculoskeletal complaints were commonly logged by osteopathic medical students within the studied population. Opioids were documented as a treatment for musculoskeletal conditions more frequently than OMT. As such, opportunities exist to expand the utilization of OMT during clinical clerkships and to decrease the frequency of prescribed medications for pain management.

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