Pediatric urologists top list of those with long wait times

August 1, 2012

A new national survey shows severe physician shortages among certain pediatric specialties, and pediatric urologists top the list of those registering long wait times for pediatric surgical care.

A new national survey shows severe physician shortages among certain pediatric specialties, and pediatric urologists top the list of those registering long wait times for pediatric surgical care.

Long wait times are a “harsh reality” for many children seeking health care in the United States, according to the Children’s Hospital Association, which released the survey findings last week.

“Although significant progress has been made to support children’s health care in recent years, children still face barriers when accessing pediatric care,” said Mark Wietecha, of the Children’s Hospital Association. “More needs to be done to ensure they’re getting the care they need, when they need it, and in the right care setting.”

The survey analysis of nearly 70 children’s hospitals across the country reveals ongoing vacancies of 12 months or longer among key pediatric specialties such as neurology (39% of hospitals surveyed), general surgery (30%), and developmental-behavioral medicine (28%) that are impacting hospitals’ ability to provide timely medical care to kids.

Three out of four hospitals say the shortages have caused delayed appointments. Among surgical specialties, pediatric urology has the longest wait time at 4.1 weeks, followed by pediatric orthopedic surgery (3.8 weeks), pediatric plastic surgery (3.4 weeks), and pediatric otolaryngology (2.6 weeks). The average wait time for elective/non-emergency cases for hospitals participating in the survey is 2 weeks.

Overall, children’s hospitals say the shortages most affecting their ability to deliver care lie in neurology (15% of hospitals surveyed), developmental-behavioral medicine (8%), gastroenterology (7%), pediatric surgery (7%), and neurosurgery (5%).