How do emergency department physicians rate their orthopaedic on-call coverage?

Robert Victor Cantu, John Erik Bell, William V. Padula, Kael R. Nahikian, David M. Pober

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Scopus citations


PURPOSE:: Throughout the United States, the lack of orthopaedic on-call coverage at many institutions has been described as a "crisis." This study sought to understand how emergency department (ED) physicians perceive their orthopaedic on-call coverage. Specifically, the study looked at availability of orthopaedic coverage, adequacy of coverage, and reasons for patient transfers. METHODS:: After Institutional Review Board approval, written questionnaires were mailed to the ED directors at 39 of the 41 emergency departments in New Hampshire and Vermont. The instrument consisted of 25 items. Survey domains included ED physician demographics, availability and adequacy of orthopaedic coverage, and reasons for patient transfer. All responses were anonymous. RESULTS:: A total of 31 questionnaires was returned. Approximately one third (36%) of ED physicians reported they had full-time orthopaedic coverage with 8% reporting they "never" had coverage. Almost two thirds (64%) of respondents felt their daytime orthopaedic coverage was adequate, but this number dropped to 52% for night coverage and 48% for weekend coverage. Over half (55%) of respondents felt their orthopaedist was reluctant to come in to evaluate a patient when the ED physician felt the patient warranted orthopaedic consultation. Approximately half (52%) felt it was often the case that a patient's care could have been improved if they had been evaluated by an orthopaedist. Only 29% of respondents said their orthopaedist always came in when asked to evaluate a patient. The top three reasons ED physicians felt their orthopaedist declined to care for a patient were complexity of the injury, the time of day/night, and if it was a weekend. CONCLUSION/IMPLICATIONS:: The findings in this study suggest there is substantial room for improvement in orthopaedic on-call coverage for emergency departments.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)54-57
Number of pages4
JournalJournal of orthopaedic trauma
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2012


  • emergency department
  • on-call
  • orthopaedic
  • survey

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery
  • Orthopedics and Sports Medicine


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