Inadequate coverage by surgical specialists plagues most U.S. emergency departments, according to a new study published in the journal Academic Emergency Medicine.
ERs short on surgical specialists: study
In a survey that the authors believe is the first to poll a national sample of emergency-department directors, 74% responded that they experienced inadequate on-call coverage by specialists. The percentage was lower among teaching hospitals (68%) and geographically highest in the South (81%).
More than 60% of respondents reported losing around-the-clock coverage in at least one specialty in the past four years; the problem was most common at hospitals in the Northeast (75%) and the South (66%). More than a quarter of respondents said their current on-call coverage was unreliable.
The specialists hardest to secure were trauma surgeons, neurosurgeons, plastic surgeons and hand surgeons. "Without adequate on-call specialist coverage, our healthcare system cannot provide for the needs of emergency and trauma patients," lead author Mitesh Rao, a professor of emergency medicine at Yale School of Medicine, said in a news release.
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