Maryland ranks 16% below the national average for the number of practicing physicians, and healthcare officials there said the problem is only getting worseespecially in the more rural parts of the state.
A new study conducted for the Maryland Hospital Association and co-sponsored by the states medical society shows widening gaps in primary care, emergency medicine, anesthesiology and a raft of other specialties. In rural parts of Maryland, those fields fall far below the national average, threatening to crowd hospital emergency departments or choke off access to the sick.
Its a silent crisis that grows in intensity every day, the Maryland associations President Cal Pierson said in a written statement.
Maryland hospitals say they have had difficulty in finding medical specialists to cover patient needs or to work in their emergency departments. Further, an aging physician population is expected to compound the shortage. In Maryland, almost 10% of clinical physicians are 65 years or older and 33.4% of them are 55 or older, according to the report. The current supply of surgeons across the state now meets only 90% of the demand, according to the study.
Healthcare groups in Maryland said they plan to push for more competitive reimbursement rates and state financial aid packages to help recruit and retain more medical professionals. -- by Matthew DoBias
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