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Wanted: More Hand Surgeons

May 7th 2012 at 11:29 PM

Have you ever wondered about the people who run the nation’s economy? The set of people who make sure that the country does not sink into a sea of international financial crises? These people are the blue-collar, near-minimum wage earners that do most of the work. They comprise the majority of employees working hard, day and night; to make sure that the global economy continues spinning. The only problem with this is that, since these people rely mostly on their hands to do tons of manual labor, it is these same hands that suffer the most likely injuries that are occupational hazards in the working environment. This problem calls for specialists trained to deal with such emergencies, yet sadly, hand and finger surgeons are increasingly hard to come by these days.

The Vanderbilt University Medical Center just published a study stating the need for such specialists, pointing out that in Tennessee, there were only 7% of hospitals that have 24/7 on-call hand surgeons listed in the hospital’s emergency room directories. An assistant professor of Plastic Surgery and of Orthopedic Surgery and Rehabilitation at Vanderbilt, Wesley Thayer, M.D., Ph.D., found the data presented in the paper most troubling. He said that patients all over surrounding states, including Arkansas and Tennessee, come to Vanderbilt to get injuries, such as lacerations and fractures, treated even though Dr. Thayer believes that these are injuries could be potentially been treated at the patient’s locales.

Another troubling fact that Dr. Thayer pointed out is that 80% of the hospitals that were surveyed for the Vanderbilt study offered elective courses regarding hand and finger trauma to various doctors who want to get into surgical residency, yet did not have surgeons ready for on-call emergencies. He said that there is a need for more medical doctors specializing in hand and finger trauma simply because injuries in these areas are precisely the injuries most likely obtained from blue-collar jobs. Dr. Thayer added that injuries like these often come from tinkering cars, operating construction equipment, working on printing presses, and the like.

Dr. Thayer believes that this is not just a problem isolated in a couple of states, but is a problem that is escalating to a national level. He added that according to the study, roughly 12% of all trauma treated in emergency rooms are related to hand, finger, and wrist injuries. Calls coming as far away as Mississippi and Alabama come in from time to time, requesting services from doctors specializing in hand surgery, because these states do not have even one specialist to start with. His opinion regarding this matter would be to set up dialogues with various emergency rooms and trauma hospitals, and to build a tight-knit communications network so that it would be more convenient for patients to get treatment in their own states, or at least in the closest hospital possible that offers relief.

He said that the solution may be a simple one—that hospitals offering hand and finger surgery electives should also train trauma surgeons to be specialists in the hand and wrist area. It is not anymore a question of hand surgeons not wanting to treat people in emergency rooms but instead rely on clinical duties to earn more money. The fact is that there aren’t even enough hand surgeons well-trained enough to handle such crises. Dr. Thayer believes that it is time to finally give back to our blue-collar employees for their service and hard work by training more medical personnel to focus on physical problems these employees might have in the near future.

 

NOTE : This Article is originally posted by cosmeticsurgerynews.

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