Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Roaming surgeons

…According to the WSJ (January 13, 2009), some surgeons, unable to keep their practices going in today’s economy and reimbursement environment, are hitting the road.

…One, based in Tenn, closed her practice after eight years and now travels the country doing operations in smaller hospitals and towns.

…Nurses have done this for awhile, now doctors are. For one thing, their per capita income is down 25% from balmier times.

…General surgery is also less popular as a specialty.

…One in 20 general surgeons is now a temp. But don’t cry too loudly for them—they make $250K, twice what they made before circulating.

…Of course, there are tradeoffs. A surgeon who comes into town to do some surgeries isn’t wired in, doesn’t know the hospital staff or procedures. He or she may not be available for followup visits, which are very important.

…The temps counter this by saying they are not distracted by office woes.

…The hospital is also paying. This can amount to $1500 a day per surgeon.

…A temp costs twice as much as a permanent doctor.

…The American College of Surgeons has condemned “itinerants.” It has not issued guidelines but urges temps to make sure another surgeon oversees followup.

…The doctor featured in the story said she was very careful to tell the patient she would only be there for a few more hours, but Dr. So-and-So would be there if the patient needed him or her.

…Well, post-op, patients do need a surgeon. HA is iffy on this—more of "As the World Turns on Us," she guesses.

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