When a 52 year-old woman came into a Palm Beach County Emergency Room she was quickly diagnosed with a stroke, brain hemorrhage and blood clot. The woman desperately needed a neurosurgeon. However, after eleven hours of looking for a specialist, the nearest surgeon available was 260 miles away in Gainesville, Florida.
The surgery was performed, however the woman died 10 days later, likely the result of her deteriorating condition as she waited for a neurosurgeon. The unavailability of specialty surgeons, particularly neurosurgeons, hand surgeons and ophthalmologists, is not uncommon in the nation’s ER rooms as patients flock to emergency rooms that don’t have the capacity for all who arrive on their doorstep.
In Florida, Hospital CEOs and physicians are working to fix the problem of lack of available specialists by coordinating specialists regionally and infusing money into emergency departments.
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