Efforts to close the primary care workforce gap typically employ one of three basic strategies: train more primary care physicians; boost the supply of nurse practitioners or physician assistants, or both; or use community health workers to extend the reach of primary care physicians.
We provide a descriptive trend analysis of CT studies ordered in U.S. emergency departments by nonphysician health care providers and examine whether there is a significant difference in ordering patterns between nonphysicians and physicians.
Only 42 percent of the 354 million annual visits in the U.S. for acute care—treatment for newly arising health problems—are made to patients' personal physicians. The rest are made to emergency departments (28 percent), specialists (20 percent), or outpatient departments (7 percent).
Emergency department physicians are devising an ever-expanding list of workarounds to deal with ED overcrowding, but the author argues that their success in doing so perhaps enables abuse of patients rather than their protection.