Specialists On Call in the ED

From MSNBC, based on the briefing referenced in the previous post:

Many hospitals, including a few in the Dayton area, are finding it difficult to get specialist doctors to respond to emergency room calls.

Some specialist physicians, such as neurosurgeons and plastic surgeons, are resisting being on call for emergency rooms, where many of the patients have less ability to pay the doctors for their services than the patients specialists treat through referrals from primary care doctors.

Losing those kinds of services can leave emergency room patients and hospitals in a lurch. It also has the potential to compromise access to care at emergency rooms and raise health care costs if hospitals pay specialists to respond, according to a new study from the Center for Studying Health System Change, a Washington, D.C.-based nonpartisan policy research organization funded principally by The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.

Increase in Nonemergency Visits to ED’s

From Modern Physician:

Hospital emergency rooms are being strained by an increase in nonemergency visits, a growing number of patients with serious mental illnesses and a lack of specialists willing to accept on-call duty, according to the Center for Studying Health System Change.

If not addressed, the problems will compromise access to hospital care and contribute to higher healthcare costs, the center said in an issue brief.

Specialists’ reluctance to provide on-call services reflects fear of malpractice litigation, lack of reimbursement for uninsured patients and more opportunities in outpatient facilities and specialty hospitals.

The number of patients using ERs for nonemergency care rose steadily between 1997 and 2003, with the largest growth in the rate of nonemergency visits occurring among Medicare patients, the center said.

Here’s a link to the brief.