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Shortage of On-Call Surgical Specialists in Nation's Emergency Rooms, RWJF Clinical Scholar Finds

Feb 4, 2011, 9:37 PM, Posted by mtomlinson

In nearly three-quarters of the nation’s emergency rooms, patients might not be getting the urgent care they need because of inadequate on-call coverage by surgical specialists.

RWJF Clinical Scholar Mitesh Rao, M.D, M.H.S. and his colleagues found this alarming shortage in a national survey of emergency department directors. Their findings were published in the December 2010 print edition of Academic Emergency Medicine.

“We hypothesized that overall we would find a good amount of on-call coverage shortages, but we didn’t think the numbers would be that high,” Rao said. “It really stunned us.”

The survey also found that the loss of coverage has a negative effect on hospital ratings. Twenty-three percent of the hospitals experienced a loss or downgrade in trauma center designation levels as a result of on-call specialist coverage problems.

Read the story on the RWJF Human Capital website.

This commentary originally appeared on the RWJF Human Capital Blog. The views and opinions expressed here are those of the authors.