Now it’s a surgeon shortage

Just as we’re getting used to the idea of delivering medical services without enough primary care physicians to go around, we learn that some categories of surgeons will be in short supply if current trends continue.

The Business Courrier, a national business journal published in Ohio, reports we may face a shortage of general surgeons within two years.

In the specialty journal, Surgery, Dr. Tom Williams says that the shortage could reach 6,000 by 2050. This would be a huge blow to hospitals because 68 percent of hospital revenues come from surgical procedures, not counting laboratory and other services directly related to surgery, according to reports by the actuarial firm, Towers Perrin. The OR is not a cost center, although most hospitals consider it as such, but should be seen as the primary revenue-generating unit of the hospital.

Sometimes the shortage is market driven. Joint replacement surgery, for example, will soon be needed by more people who require the procedures than there are surgeons to provide them. If the number of surgeons qualified to perform total joint replacement surgery grows at the same rate as now, by 2016 there could be as many at 46 percent of hip replacements and 72 percent of knee replacements that will not be offered due to the surgeon shortage.  More than 700,000 primary total hip and knee replacements are done each year, and the number will double by 2016. Information from a news release posted by the American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons.

Presented by Physician Publishing

Published in: on July 24, 2009 at 12:42 pm  Leave a Comment  
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