There is a growing crisis in America’s hospitals because of a shortage of on-call specialists. This crisis causes delays in patient care and may impact the quality of care provided to patients. Otolaryngologists, through their special training in the management of adult and pediatric airway emergencies, facial trauma, and head and neck surgery are a vital component of the emergency medical system.
Hospitals have a legal obligation to provide screening and stabilization services to patients that seek emergency care. As part of this obligation, hospitals are required to maintain a list of physicians who are on-call to treat patients in the emergency department. These physicians often lack contractual relationships with the managed care plans served by the hospital. Furthermore, this on-call responsibility often subjects physicians to providing uncompensated or undercompensated care while delaying care to the ill patients waiting in their office.
Given the current managed care environment, increasing overhead expenses and liability associated with providing emergency care, the costs to physicians often cannot be recouped elsewhere. Most otolaryngologists practice as a small business – as a small group or solo practice. This financial environment impacts their business and translates to an inability to invest in IT infrastructure, forced reductions in their own staffing levels, or an inability to provide insurance to their own employees.
It is the position of the American Academy of Otolaryngology—Head and Neck Surgery that hospitals should appropriately compensate otolaryngologist-head and neck surgeons for providing on-call services to their emergency departments. This compensation should be in addition to any reimbursement received for patient care provided.
Approved March 2008
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Workshops held in cities nationwide will help otolaryngologists, their staff, and other healthcare professionals code correctly, learn risk reduction strategies, and organize business systems.