For further information contact: Derek Weichel, MD, University of South Florida Department of Orthopaedic Surgery, 13220 USF Laurel Dr., MDF 5th Flr., Mail Code MDC 106, Tampa, FL 33613; e-mail email@example.com.
Orthopedic Surgery in Rural American Hospitals: A Survey of Rural Hospital Administrators
Article first published online: 25 MAY 2011
© 2011 National Rural Health Association
The Journal of Rural Health
Volume 28, Issue 2, pages 137–141, Spring 2012
How to Cite
Weichel, D. (2012), Orthopedic Surgery in Rural American Hospitals: A Survey of Rural Hospital Administrators. The Journal of Rural Health, 28: 137–141. doi: 10.1111/j.1748-0361.2011.00379.x
- Issue published online: 28 MAR 2012
- Article first published online: 25 MAY 2011
- access to care;
- orthopedic surgery;
- physician supply;
- rural hospitals
Rural American residents prefer to receive their medical care locally. Lack of specific medical services in the local community necessitates travel to a larger center which is less favorable. This study was done to identify how rural hospitals choose to provide orthopedic surgical services to their communities.
Methods: All hospitals in 5 states located in communities that met the criteria for a rural town according to the Rural Urban Commuting Area codes were included. A survey with topics including community and hospital demographics, orthopedic surgical workforce and demand, surgical services, and the perceived benefit of orthopedic services was sent to the hospital administrators.
Results: Of the 223 rural hospitals surveyed, 145 completed the survey. Of those completing the survey, 30% had at least one full-time orthopedic surgeon, 25% did not provide any orthopedic surgical services, 65% never had an orthopedic surgeon on ER call, 33% were recruiting an orthopedic surgeon, 52% stated that it is more difficult to recruit an orthopedic surgeon vs a general surgeon, and 71% of the administrators acknowledged a need for additional orthopedic surgical services in their community. For those hospitals that did not have a full-time orthopedic surgeon, members of those communities traveled a mean distance of 55 miles for emergency orthopedic surgical care as reported by the hospital administrators.
Conclusions: There are many rural communities that have limited access to orthopedic surgical services. While many of the rural hospital administrators feel that there is a need for additional orthopedic surgical services in their communities, it is difficult to recruit orthopedic surgeons to these areas.