Journal of the American Society of Anesthesiologists
Anesthesia has historically been an undersupplied specialty. Health personnel issues used to be dominated by the findings of the 1980 Graduate Medical Education National Advisory Committee study, which suggested that anesthesia would be a balanced specialty for the rest of the century. Recent studies, however, have demonstrated that there is an oversupply of all specialists, including anesthesiology. These studies take a "top down" view of health personnel through analysis of national statistics and exploration of subsets of the data by hospital size and rurality. This approach assumes that the databases of the American Hospital Association and the American Medical Association are accurate and do not take into account the presence of certified registered nurse anesthetists (CRNAs), who are the predominant providers of anesthesia care in the smallest and most remote hospitals in the United States. We compared the 1994 master file of the American Medical Association with our local knowledge of the practitioners in the rural areas of Washington state and found numerous small errors. These errors of one or two practitioners made no difference to the analysis of practitioner groups with more than approximately five people, but in the most rural communities the erroneous presence or absence of a single practitioner made a significant difference.
WWAMI Rural Health Research Center
Peter Dunbar, Jonathan Mayer, Meredith Fordyce, Denise Lishner, Amy Hagopian, Ken Spanton, Gary Hart