Neurosurgery, Volume 84, Issue 4, April 2019, Pages 977–984
Traditionally, neurosurgeons have responded to calls to treat new patients or address emergent, acute neurosurgical pathology in the hospitals they staff as part of their duty to the medical profession and community. Due to increasing financial pressures placed upon neurosurgical practice from hospitals and regulatory mandates, remuneration for neurosurgeon availability to serve on trauma call has become more frequent and is increasingly seen as essential.
In this study, we present the first peer-review published survey of neurosurgical emergency and trauma call coverage patterns, scope, schedules, compensation, liability exposure, and call cessation. We surveyed all practicing neurosurgeon members of the American Association of Neurological Surgeons and Congress of Neurological Surgeons with a 24% response rate. The vast majority of respondents (86%), through their practice, provide 24/7/365 trauma coverage at their primary hospital site. About a third (29%) of respondents have been sued by a patient seen in the emergency department. Twenty percent of respondents anticipate retiring within the next 2 yr.
Understanding trauma call coverage, remuneration, and the barriers to taking call provide needed transparency to neurosurgeons who are providing emergency, life-saving services for patients across the country. An understanding of supply and demand forces governing call coverage also assists the field in necessary workforce planning and innovation in providing access to needed, timely acute neurosurgical care.