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Is America heading towards a major OB-GYN shortage?

On Behalf of | Aug 16, 2016 | Health Law |

Sometimes, doctor shortages arise within certain fields of medicine. A recent article on the website of the Huffington Post pointed out one such shortage that many parts of the U.S. are facing, a shortage when it comes to OB-GYN physicians.

The total number of obstetricians/gynecologists in the U.S. is estimated to be around 20,000. Now, OB-GYN physician levels vary quite a bit from state-to-state and county-to-county. Statistics indicate that many U.S. counties are without any practicing OB-GYN physicians. Specifically, American College of Nurse-Midwives data points to this being the case in nearly half (46 percent) of the nation’s counties.

Among the factors that are believed to be playing a role in the shortage are demographic shifts in the U.S. and trends within the field of OB-GYN care.

And, given that it is predicted that there will be increases in both birth totals and the female population in America in upcoming years, some are predicting the OB-GYN shortage could grow to even higher levels in the future. For example, the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists is predicting that, by 2050, OB-GYN physician levels in the country could fall short of overall need by as many as 22,000 doctors.

Wisconsin is among the states where actions are being taken in response to the shortage. For one, the University of Wisconsin School of Medicine is starting a resident training program aimed at getting more OB-GYN services out to underserved rural areas. Are there any other types of measures in particular you think Wisconsin should be taking to try to address the issue of OB-GYN doctor shortages?

Along with affecting patients, physician shortages within a particular medical field can also impact doctors practicing in that field. Whether or not there is a shortage in their field is one of the many factors that can impact what particular practical and legal issues end up coming up for a physician in connection to their practice, as it can affect things like the level of demand for their services and the kinds of workloads they have. Experienced health care lawyers can assist OB-GYN physicians with the unique medical-practice-related legal issues that arise for them as a result of their specific circumstances and the particular circumstance of their field.

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