ICU physician shortage will push hundreds of US counties into crisis, analysts predict

Between now and March 20, hundreds of U.S. counties will need crisis workforce strategies because of intensive care unit shortages of critical care physician specialists, a new analysis estimates.

For counties that need crisis workforce strategies, this could mean integrating workers who don't typically work in the ICU to work in that area, analysts said. Contingency workforce strategies cited by analysts include higher patient counts per team, as well as float pools and overtime. 

"Some counties in the contingency group may also need to adopt crisis staffing strategies [because of] pre-existing workforce constraints," they said.

Analysts predicted that that 7 percent of U.S. counties will experience hospital workforce staffing strains because of COVID-19 hospitalizations; 12 counties will need contingency workforce strategies; and nearly 2,200 counties will maintain conventional workforce strategies because of lower than 7 percent COVID-19 hospitalization occupancy. They said an additional 736 counties did not have a hospital or did not have adequate hospitalization data to assess potential workforce staffing strain related to COVID-19.

The findings are based on a COVID-19 county workforce estimator developed by The Fitzhugh Mullan Institute for Health Workforce Equity at George Washington University in Washington, D.C., in collaboration with Premier, a group purchasing organization, and the National Association of County and City Health Officials. 

To learn more about the analysis and the methodology used, click here


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