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Hand surgeons in short supply for emergencies

Article-Hand surgeons in short supply for emergencies

Nashville, Tenn. — Newly published research points to a shortage of hand specialists available to provide emergency coverage across Tennessee.

Researchers from Vanderbilt University Medical Center surveyed 119 hospitals across the state, all of which had both an operating room and an emergency room. The study evaluated the availability of both elective and emergency hand surgery services, HealthDay News reports.

Of the 93 percent of hospitals that completed the survey, 77 percent offered elective hand surgery and 58 percent offered basic emergency coverage for hand injuries. Only 18 percent offered occasional hand specialist call coverage. Only 7 percent of hospitals surveyed offered full-time hand specialist call coverage.

Hospitals with hand specialists available billed significantly more through commercial insurance than those lacking specialist coverage.

"Potential solutions include altering the structure and length of hand training itself by developing an integrated residency, arguing for increased compensation, increasing direct pay from hospitals for call coverage, creating multihospital coordinated call schedules, and encouraging more surgeons to pursue hand surgery training," the study authors concluded.

The report was published in the May issue of Annals of Plastic Surgery.

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