More than half of COVID-19 physician deaths are among those in primary care, family medicine, study shows

Primary care and family medicine physicians made up the greatest share of physicians who have died of COVID-19 globally, a new study shows.

Researchers from Philadelphia-based Penn Medicine analyzed reports of healthcare workers who died of COVID-19 on the medical website Medscape. The website maintains a crowdsourced list of healthcare worker deaths across the globe, and it requires confirming documentation for each report. There were 1,004 such reports as of May 13. The researchers published their findings in the Journal of the American Board of Family Medicine.

They found that 55 percent of the deaths in the sample were physicians. Among the physicians who died, the largest subset (26.9 percent) included general practitioner/family medicine/primary care physicians.

Emergency medicine physicians, critical care specialists and anesthesiologists, who are more likely to be on the front line of COVID-19 care, made up7.4 percent of the deaths in the sample studied.

"Front-line physicians, including anesthesiologists, ICU specialists, emergency room physicians, and nurses form a much smaller group of COVD-19 cases, likely due to better access to personal protective equipment," said Basavana Goudra, MD, senior author of the study and a clinical associate professor of anesthesiology and critical care at Penn Medicine.

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