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Florida’s Doctor Shortage

November 9th, 2007 by flanews

Florida has a doctor shortage.  Previous estimates pegged the number of doctors practicing in the state at 50-thousand.  But the number is actually closer to 34-thousand, according to a new study.  As Chris Casquejo tells us, medical professionals point to high malpractice insurance one reason why Florida isn’t doctor-friendly.

Hear it here: Florida’s Doctor Shortage

Grace Williams divides her time among California, Washington state and Florida.  She sees a doctor every other month, but she often has to wait longer in Florida for test results.

“If you have to get a CAT scan or a PET scan.  Those are the doctors you don’t get to communicate with.  The special doctors,” Williams said.

A study from Florida State University found 16,000 fewer doctors practicing medicine than previously thought.  The average age of a Florida doctor is 51, and a quarter of physicians are older than 60.

Doctors consider medical malpractice insurance rates when deciding where to practice.  For most specialties, Florida physicians pay higher premiums than the national average.

But Florida State’s Dr. Robert Brooks points to medical schools planned in Orlando and Miami as one positive sign.

“Actually training students here in the state of Florida, such as at FSU College of Medicine, is likely to increase the number of doctors,” Dr. Brooks said.

The medical schools are a long-term solution, because students won’t be practicing medicine for about a decade.  In the short-term, the Florida Hospital Association says the state can’t just find more doctors, nurses and other care provider, it needs to keep them working instead of retiring.

“We’ve relied on our weather to attract them after they’ve been trained in other states,” said Bill Bell, of the Florida Hospital Association.

The doctor shortage will get worse before it gets better.  Florida has more than 18 million people and the population is growing by 300,000 each year.

The Florida State University study also found that 13 percent of Florida’s doctors plan to leave or significantly reduce their practice within the next five years.

Posted in Education, Health, State News | 1 Comment »

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