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Doctors and nurses shortage unlikely to improve soon
07.30.2012The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA) has been designed to provide coverage for 30 million currently uninsured Americans in 2015. However, some experts say the national shortage of doctors, especially in rural areas, will provide another obstacle on many people's path to paying for services like immediate care and emergency medicine.
"We have a shortage of every kind of doctor, except for plastic surgeons and dermatologists. We'll have a 5,000-physician shortage in 10 years, no matter what anybody does," G. Richard Olds, dean of the new medical school at the University of California, Riverside, told the New York Times.
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services says the ratio of primary care doctors in a given population should be 60 to 80 physicians for every 100,000 citizens. Taking a close examination of the the Inland Empire region of Southern California, the New York Times states that the area only has about 40 primary care doctors to treat 100,000 people.
Numbers from nonpartisan research organization the Center for Studying Health System Change show that new Medicaid patients wouldn't be taken on by more than 50 percent of the primary care facilities in the country. The Times spoke with the chief of an Inland-based string of nonprofit clinics who said she expects her organization's patient load to swell from 10,000 to 25,000. Predictably, she expressed interest in physician recruitment.
"I would like to note that these are not newly appeared patients," American Medical Association president-elect Adis Hoven told CNN in another doctor-shortage story from August. "They've been in emergency rooms for things that are not necessarily an emergency. It's going to be a reshuffling of where they get their care and when they get their care."
The article does not address why none of these patients visited an urgent care facility, or sought out immediate care instead of checking themselves into an already overcrowded emergency room.
CNN went on to quote the president of the American Nurses Association Karen Daley, who said nurses would be uniquely equipped to handle all the extra patients, except there has also been a shortage of nurses since the early 2000s.
"We're going to be facing serious shortages unlike anything we've ever seen in the next decade," she said.
Research shows that a lower nurse-to-patient ratio may reduce the number of pediatric hospital … more
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