Monday, June 05, 2006

Needs of Patients Outpace Doctors
An aging America and a shortage of physicians will severely tax the healthcare system, experts say. The effects are already being felt.
By Lisa Girion, Times Staff Writer
June 4, 2006

A looming doctor shortage threatens to create a national healthcare crisis by further limiting access to physicians, jeopardizing quality and accelerating cost increases.

Twelve states — including California, Texas and Florida — report some physician shortages now or expect them within a few years. Across the country, patients are experiencing or soon will face shortages in at least a dozen physician specialties, including cardiology, radiology, and several pediatric and surgical subspecialties.

The shortages are putting pressure on medical schools to boost enrollment, and on lawmakers to lift a cap on funding for physician training and to ease limits on immigration of foreign physicians, who already constitute 25% of the white-coated workforce.

But it may be too late to head off havoc for at least the next decade, experts say, given the long lead time to train surgeons and other specialists.
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