Doctor shortage forces Denver VA hospital to postpone surgeries

Dive Short:

  • The Denver VA Medical Center is currently facing because of a shortage of anesthesiologists. A VA spokeswoman said the hospital postponed approximately 65 to 90 non-emergency surgeries because of the shortage.

  • The Denver VA facility is part of the Eastern Colorado Health Care System, which allegedly has . A July report discovered that almost 13.5% of doctor appointments at the health system needed a longer than 30-day delay, that was the worst in the country.

  • The normal wait time for a operation between a recognized Denver VA patient is 8.3 times, which is far better than the VA’s average (9.5 times), but worse than the overall national average (5.8 days).

Dive Insight:

The VA system was fighting with patient wait times. The VA would prefer all patients to have access to a scheduled appointment in 14 days, however some veterans wait longer to see doctors.  

In among the most publicized cases, the Phoenix area VA’d wait times almost four times the national average in 2014. Ever since then, the Phoenix VA has enhanced the numbers and sought additional approaches to better doctor access. before this year announced a partnership with TriWest Healthcare Alliance and CVS’ MinuteClinic to enlarge healthcare services for veterans in the Phoenix Region. Veterans in that area will currently be able to refer veterans to MinuteClinics through the Veterans Choice Program.  

For Eastern Colorado, the VA system faced a 16% doctor vacancy rate across the summer and increased primary care doctor pay in the hope of bringing more doctors onboard. Eastern Colorado continues to be working with locum tenens to fill the openings.

As another means to assist, the is proposing a rule that would allow its healthcare providers to treat individuals through telehealth. Proponents say the move may especially assist rural areas since the rule will allow physicians in metropolitan areas to find patients in other parts of the country.

Also, in August, President Donald Trump , which for the VA to employ additional employees, upgrade VA facilities and include 28 more VA practices. Over fifty percent of the cash ($2.1 billion) will visit the Veterans Choice Program, which uses government funding to pay for care for veterans residing in areas without ready access to VA hospitals and hospitals.

The VA isn’t the only one facing doctors shortage and lengthy wait times. Some estimates predict a of between 46,000 and 90,000 doctors across the U.S. by 2025. A current discovered that state could be short 4,700 main care clinicians by 2025 and approximately 4,100 by 2030.

Pros fear shortages, however the amount of licensed doctors has actually enhanced. According to the , the percent of qualified licensed doctors increased by 12% between 2010 and 2016. The U.S. physician-to-population ratio rose during that period from 277 doctors per 100,000 individuals to 295 per 100,000. Despite those improved numbers, healthcare specialists still fear that the doctors won’t be able to keep up with the aging population, or what is being called “the silver tsunami.”

Recommended Reading:

  • The Denver Post Dozens of operations at Denver VA hospital put off because of doctor shortage
  • The Denver Post Wait times at Colorado VA facilities among worst in the nation, new statistics show