Post-Surgical Complication

Shortage of Primary Care Providers Heightens Need for Emergency Surgeries and Raises Post-Surgical Complication Risks


A recent research study has shed light on the impact of America’s shortage of primary care doctors and nurse practitioners on emergency surgeries and post-surgical complications. Conducted by a team at Michigan Medicine, the University of Michigan’s academic medical center, the study revealed that individuals residing in areas with severe shortages of primary care providers are at a significantly higher risk of undergoing emergency surgery as opposed to a scheduled operation, compared to those in regions with adequate primary care resources.

The study focused on data from individuals with traditional Medicare coverage who underwent surgeries for critical conditions such as colectomy, hernia repair, and aortic aneurysm repair. It found that patients in areas with the most severe primary care shortages had a higher likelihood of experiencing complications following surgery and requiring readmission to the hospital post-surgery when compared to those in regions with lesser shortages.

Lead author Dr. Sara Schaefer emphasized the crucial role of primary care providers in bridging the gap between accessing care and specialized treatments. The study highlighted that proactive identification of potential health issues by primary care physicians could help prevent emergencies and improve patient outcomes.

While the study did not directly correlate primary care shortages with mortality rates, it did underscore the lower mortality risk for patients residing in regions with better primary care availability. The findings underscored the urgent need to address the shortage of primary care providers in both rural and urban areas to enhance healthcare outcomes and reduce emergency surgeries.

Efforts to increase the supply of primary care providers and attract them to underserved areas through loan forgiveness and restructuring programs were emphasized as key strategies. Encouraging healthcare professionals to opt for primary care careers and incentivizing their practice in shortage areas could lead to improved outcomes for patients requiring time-sensitive surgeries.

The researchers stressed the importance of establishing regular relationships with primary care providers for individuals in shortage areas to ensure timely access to care and prompt management of health concerns. Surgeons were urged to facilitate connections between patients and primary care providers during post-surgery hospitalization to support recovery and address any health issues effectively.

Moving forward, the researchers hope that further studies will explore the impact of primary care shortages on diverse patient populations covered by a range of insurance plans. The study’s outcomes emphasize the critical need to address the primary care provider shortage to enhance healthcare accessibility, reduce emergency surgeries, and improve patient outcomes across the United States.

1. Source: Coherent Market Insights, Public sources, Desk research
2. We have leveraged AI tools to mine information and compile it