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ERs lack on-call specialists

A new survey of emergency rooms reveals the number of specialists who are willing to be on-call has declined over the past year. The report comes from the American College of Emergency Physicians. KPBS Reporter Kenny Goldberg has the story.

The survey shows nearly three out of four emergency department directors say they don't have enough on-call specialists. The top shortages include the specialties of orthopedics and neurosurgery.

Dr. Ted Mazer is an ear, nose, and throat specialist in San Diego. He says being on-call is problematic.

Dr. Mazer: You know, you're dealing with oftentimes the worst of the worst in terms of injury and in terms of sick patients, and they come in with multiple problems, medical and or surgical. And they're uninsured. How do they pay their bills? Well, sometimes with the help of attorneys. That's very scary to doctors.

The ER report says the shrinking availability of specialists coincides with increased demand for emergency care. The report says that means patients could be at risk. Kenny Goldberg, KPBS News.

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