Physician assistants and nurse practitioners are staffing rural ERs full time

The physician shortage is forcing rural ERs to use mid-levels exclusively to staff their emergency departments.

Local doctors are the backup, available by phone and able to go the hospital within minutes for emergencies.

Some hospitals have no choice, since the alternative would be to shut the ER down due to the lack of available physicians.

There is a marked difference in the amount of training an emergency physician receives when compared to a physician assistant or nurse practitioner. Does this training disparity lead to differences in patient outcomes and malpractice suits? That’s difficult to say, but Press Ganey patient satisfaction scores suggest that there is no drop-off.

I wonder if this will be the start of a trend where physicians will staff trauma centers only, leaving the rural ERs to mid-level providers.

✓ Join 150,000+ subscribers
✓ Get KevinMD's most popular stories