This affects everyone, insured and uninsured patients...there's just not enough to go around...telemedicine can help with some of the issues...that is if the volume where they are physically located are not at the point of being exhausted at the same time...and a unit like the Robo Doc can be used...but over all this issue is not going away and hopefully not coming to a hospital close to you...BD
Hospital emergency departments across the United States, already struggling with overcrowding and growing patient loads, are increasingly unable to find specialists to help treat seriously injured and ill patients, according to medical experts.
Crucial minutes, hours and even days can go by as patients suffering from trauma, strokes, broken bones and other maladies await evaluations by neurologists, orthopedic surgeons and other specialists because hospitals are having difficulty getting them to serve 24-hour emergency "on-call" shifts.
"Patients have died in transport, or waiting to find a neurosurgeon, or getting to a heart center for a cardiologist." The shortage of specialists is the result of a fear of malpractice lawsuits, a reluctance to go without pay when seeing uninsured patients, and a growing intolerance for the disruption in their personal lives and private practices, the experts say. Many specialists are also decreasing their work for general hospitals.
Retiree Mary Jo McClure, 74, experienced the problem firsthand one Friday afternoon in January when she fell down some concrete steps, tearing large chunks of flesh from one leg. The plastic surgeon on call for Tucson Medical Center refused to leave her private-practice patients to come to the emergency department to treat McClure, who has health insurance. The doctor said instead she would see the injured woman in her office the next Monday. Judy Rich, the hospital's executive vice president and administrator, said the plastic surgeon later acknowledged that she should have seen McClure.
"I can understand nationally why this is becoming a bigger issue, because the system is being pressured," he said. "More volume is getting through a pipe that's getting smaller in diameter. And then what you actually do while you're on call gets to be more and more painful." "Something people don't understand is that even if you have insurance, if I don't have an on-call orthopedic surgeon, I can't help you," Lawrence said. "It's an issue that affects everybody, insured and uninsured. If there's no bed available, there's no bed available."
On-Call Specialists At Emergency Rooms Harder to Find, Keep - washingtonpost.com
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