Pediatric physician shortages are creating challenges for children who need health care, according to the Children's Hospital Association.
Some positions in pediatric specialties at hospitals are remaining open for 12 months or more. In an association survey of almost 70 hospitals nationwide, 39 percent reported year-long vacancies in neurology, 30 percent reported year-long vacancies in general surgery, and 28 percent reported similar vacancies in developmental-behavioral medicine.
As a result of the staff shortages, children face longer wait times for appointments -- up to 15 weeks for developmental-behavioral specialists and nine weeks for pediatric neurologists -- the association reported.
"Although significant progress has been made to support children's health care in recent years, children still face barriers when accessing pediatric care," Mark Wietecha, president and CEO of the Children's Hospital Association, said in a press statement. "Children deserve better. More needs to be done to ensure they're getting the care they need, when they need it and in the right care setting."
Besides developmental-behavioral medicine and neurology, the association's analysis of the physician shortages showed the most affected specialties were pediatric gastroenterology, pediatric surgery and pediatric neurosurgery.