Medical Malpractice Lawyer

Shortage of Surgeons Poses Huge Health Risk

According to the Association of American Medical Colleges, there will be a shortage of between 14,300 and 23,400 surgeons in the United States by the year 2032. The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) has done a study that shows there are “also projected shortages in nine out of 10 surgical specialties by 2025, with the largest shortages in general surgery, urology, ophthalmology and orthopedic surgery.”(The Do)

Why the Shortage?

  • More surgical procedures are being performed than ever before.
  • Medical schools aren’t producing enough surgical interns to keep up with the higher number of surgeries.
  • There are many surgeons retiring.
  • The population is aging, which means there will be a higher demand for surgery.

What is being done to curb this shortage?

  • Hospitals are working on ways to recruit more surgeons, and are paying higher salaries to retain their best surgeons.
  • The U.S. House of Representatives introduced legislation. HR1841, The Ensuring Access to General Surgery Act “would direct HHS to conduct a study to define and identify general surgery shortage areas, and then give the Secretary of HHS the authority to designate general surgery shortage areas based on the study’s findings.”

There are many consequences for a surgeon shortage in the United States, the most detrimental one being death of a patient.

The family of Johnny Sledge, age 24 was recently awarded $30 million in a malpractice case against Dr. Bradley Bilton, a surgeon for DCH Regional Medical Center in Tennessee, as well as against the hospital. Sledge was shot in December of 2013 when a gunfight broke out. He was rushed to the hospital, and needed emergency surgery. The on-call surgeon, Dr. Bilton, was performing an elective surgery at the time.

Sledge died two hours later, while still waiting in the emergency room. The emergency room physician treated him, but he needed life-saving surgery for internal injuries from the gunshot wound to his back. There was no surgeon available to do the surgery.

Dr. Bilton had been contacted two different times by hospital staff, and both times he responded that he was in surgery and told them to find another surgeon. Hospital policies require the unavailable surgeon to find another surgeon, but that was not done. The hospital staff made calls to find another surgeon, but couldn’t find one available. They called Dr. Bilton a third time, and he responded to transfer Sledge to another hospital.


If you or someone you care about has suffered because of medical negligence, please schedule your free consultation by calling the Law Offices of David L. Hood at (843) 491-6025 or filling out our brief online contact form.

We know how difficult it can be to deal with the immediate and long-term effects of a serious malpractice-related injury. At the Law Offices of David L. Hood, we work hard to make things simple for you. After a free case evaluation, if we believe we can help you and your family, Medical Malpractice Attorney David L. Hood, co-counsel, and our team of experts will vigorously pursue your case to get you the best result we can achieve. Let us put our years of experience to work for you!

Other online references used for this article: