Nearly three out of four emergency department directors said they struggle with inadequate on-call coverage by specialists, according to a survey of 1,328 hospital emergency departments by the American College of Emergency Physicians. That's a significant increase from last year, when about two-thirds of the directors surveyed complained of inadequate coverage. "The availability of specialists has spiraled downward in just one year," ACEP President Frederick Blum said. The survey, conducted between August and November 2005 with researchers from Johns Hopkins University, noted the top five specialist shortages were orthopedists, plastic surgeons, neurosurgeons, hand surgeons, and ear, nose and throat specialists. About half of the emergency room directors said between one and five patients a day were being "boarded," or admitted to the ER, without available hospital beds.
On-call specialist coverage low: survey
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