Number of Sonoma County Physicians Hits Lowest Level in 20 Years, Survey Says
The number of practicing physicians in Sonoma County has dropped nearly 10% since 1995, reaching the lowest level in 20 years, according to a recent Sonoma County Medical Association survey, the Santa Rosa Press-Democrat reports. The association reviewed the licenses of 1,300 Sonoma County physicians and found that 813 were in active practice. According to the survey, the current ratio of active doctors is 177 per 100,000 residents, compared with 216 in 1995 and 173 in 1979. The Press-Democrat reports that the SCMA survey seems to "support anecdotal evidence" that doctors have been "dropping out of managed care plans, leaving the state or leaving the profession" over the last several years. The survey found "significant" drops in the numbers of doctors in emergency medicine, radiology, psychiatry, general and family practice and in the ear, nose and throat specialty. Dr. Bob Schultz, president of the SCMA and medical director at Kaiser Permanente Hospital, attributed the decline to "doctors' dislike of administrative work" and "low reimbursements from health plans and Medicare and Medi-Cal." The SCMA survey follows a separate California Medical Association survey released earlier this week that found that physicians' unhappiness with managed care and low reimbursement will prompt many doctors to leave the state (Rose, Santa Rosa Press-Democrat, 7/17).This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.