Study: Military emergency rooms suffer when doctors deploy
January 14, 2006
ARLINGTON, Va. — A “report card” from the American College of Emergency Physicians found that U.S. military hospitals in the States and overseas have crowded emergency rooms in part due to military deployments.
“Military emergency physicians are being deployed in defense of the nation as never before,” says the report card, released Tuesday, which evaluated both military and civilian health care systems.
“They are deployed at one of the highest rates among medical specialists in all three military services, and are among the most highly sought specialists by the military,” the report card says.
Deployments hit patients with nonlife-threatening injuries with a double-whammy, said Dr. John McManus, an Army lieutenant colonel and president-elect of Government Services, a nonprofit organization for military emergency physicians.
He said that when specialists deploy to the war zone, their patients may have to go to the depleted emergency room to get primary care.
The Europe Regional Medical Command, which runs Army clinics in Europe, reported no problems staffing the emergency rooms at Würzburg, Landstuhl and Heidelberg, but did say Würzburg faces a staffing shortage for in-patient services because many of the hospital’s personnel are assisting with earthquake relief efforts in Pakistan.
A relatively small number of military emergency physicians are deployed at any one time, said the deputy director of Tricare services.
Dr. Elder Granger, an Army brigadier general, said Friday that between 10 and 15 percent of military emergency physicians normally are deployed.
“That in itself is not a significant number compared to the number of emergency physicians we have in the military,” said Granger, who did not know the total number of military emergency physicians off-hand.
However, Granger said the percentage of emergency physicians deployed can double, up to 30 percent, for brief periods of time when a hospital’s doctors are en route to and back from deployments.
Stripes reporters Sandra Jontz and Kent Harris contributed to this report.