Monday, July 18, 2005

Access to Specialists

An outgrowth of some EMTALA research, from Medical News Today:

"US Physician Leaders Distressed by ER Specialist Shortage"

A new poll of physician leaders across the country found that a severe shortage of specialists is hurting hospital emergency rooms. In many cases, hospitals are now being forced to pay specialists extra money to be on call for emergencies.

Some physician leaders are outraged at even the mere suggestion of paying specialists to take emergency room call. A couple even went so far as to call specialist pay "blackmail" and "extortion."

"I must be old-school because I believe taking ER call is part of a physician's obligation to his/her community ... I am embarrassed to see physicians feel they are not responsible to provide any charity care to their fellow man," wrote one respondent to a recent poll by the American College of Physician Executives (ACPE).

Other physician leaders said paying for call is inevitable: "Physicians have incredible financial pressures to stay in practice. All they can sell is their time. There is no reason for physicians alone to shoulder the entire burden of community health care."


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