Feb 4 2011

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

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.

Tags: Clinical Scholars, Emergency Care, HC Website Feature, National, Publications