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American College of Surgeons Issues New Health Care Reform Agenda, Emphasizes Need to Address Access, Surgical Workforce Shortage
Date:12/4/2008

Survey of Americans Finds Vast Majority Agree the Shortage Must Be Addressed

CHICAGO, Dec. 4 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- As President-elect Barack Obama and the incoming 111th Congress prepare for the many policy issues potentially complicating the process of achieving effective health care reform, the American College of Surgeons (ACS) has released a comprehensive policy statement to help frame the debate. Specifically, the ACS calls on policymakers to support a reform approach that improves access to safe, high-quality, and affordable surgical care. A key objective of the ACS effort is to address the crisis of access to quality surgical care by emphasizing policies that will remedy the surgical workforce shortage affecting the country.

The ACS's focus on and concern about patient access to safe and effective surgical care and the looming surgeon shortage is supported by a recent public opinion poll it conducted. Results of the survey indicate that 86 percent of Americans feel a potential surgeon shortage is an important issue to be addressed as part of any health care reform process.

"Access to surgical care is eroding in many communities across the country and for some it is nonexistent," said L. D. Britt, MD, MPH, FACS, Brickhouse Professor and Chair, department of surgery, Eastern Virginia Medical School, Norfolk, VA, and Chair of the ACS Board of Regents. "The availability of a highly trained surgeon can mean life or death to a patient in need. Policymakers must address the root causes of this workforce shortage because patient care must not suffer."

Today, fewer doctors coming out of medical school pursue surgical training, raising concerns about the long-term impact of surgical workforce availability due to the additional years required for surgical training.

Those fears are echoed by survey respondents, as most said they were concerne
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SOURCE American College of Surgeons
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