Group says it's time to change critical care system

U.S. critical care needs to be reorganized or risk collapse due to doctor shortages, according to a report issued by a group including doctors, patients and insurers. The group is recommending that critical care be delivered in a tiered, regionalized system rather than ad hoc at individual hospitals.

Right now, critical care services face a crisis, with intensivist shortages predicted as the number of patients grows with the aging of the American population. A federal study recently predicted that, while the number of critical care doctors would grow from 1,900 to 2,800 between 2000 and 2020, 4,300 such doctors would be needed by that point. But a new model of care delivery could help, the group suggests. It recommends that critical care be organized along lines similar to trauma center networks, with some locations for the sickest of sick patients and others for those with less-intense needs. Moving critically-ill patients from one of these centers to another could prove challenging; however, the group plans to consider solutions to this issue at its next meeting.

To get more background on the group's proposal:
- read this Associated Press item

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Physician shortage looms. Report