Emergency departments suffer surgeon shortage

America's trauma care system not only is fragmented and underfunded, worse yet, its emergency rooms do not have enough on-call trauma surgeons to care for the patients who arrive at their doors, HealthDay News reports. Three in four emergency department directors surveyed reported on-call coverage problems with specialist physicians, according to a study published in the journal, Academic Emergency Medicine. As a result, 22 percent noticed an increase in patients leaving before getting care from a medical specialist.

"Without adequate on-call surgical coverage, our healthcare system cannot provide for emergency and trauma patients," lead author Dr. Mitesh Rao, who works at the emergency medicine department at Yale University, said, according to HealthDay. The lack of adequate specialty physicians can be tied to 21 percent of ED deaths and permanent harm, he added. Often the only option is to transfer patients to available specialists, but the delay in care can be risky.

In other findings, 60 percent reported that they lost 24/7 coverage for at least one specialty in the past four years. Slightly more than one-quarter (26 percent) reported that their current on-call coverage is unreliable. For nearly one in four (23 percent), unreliable on-call coverage has even affected their trauma center's designated level.

To learn more:
- read the Academic Emergency Medicine abstract
- here's the HealthDay News story

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