POWAY: Doctors Demand Remuneration For On-Call Duty
Two-thirds of the staff physicians at Pomerado Hospital in Poway are demanding that they no longer be required to be on call for the hospital's emergency room "without any guarantee of payment", the San Diego Union-Tribune reports. At a meeting with hospital officials last week, the doctors said being on call -- "a long-standing requirement to receive hospital staff privileges" -- "too often disrupts their regular patient practices, interferes with their personal lives and much too frequently requires them to treat people who have little ability to pay." The physicians are demanding the hospital end the requirement and give them a stipend for being on call, "even if it means assessing an additional property tax on homeowners in the hospital district." Dr. James Marino, chief of surgery at Pomerado, resigned in protest of the on-call policy last Tuesday. "I'm sure the plantation owners were not happy about the end of enslavement because it cost them money to pay for the workers. We're not enslaved, but we are in a sense being asked to do something against our will and without compensation for our commitment and time," he said. Marino said that doctors may quit voluntary posts and take "elective cases to other facilities" if the policy is not changed. Dr. Nick Yphantides, head of a hospital board committee designed to resolve the standoff, said that he "understands the doctors' complaints," noting that the managed care revolution has made it harder for doctors to be compensated for emergency care when on call. A spokesperson for the hospital "said that all of Pomerado's specialists on call receive some money from a fund, but he acknowledged that the amount is small, as little as $2 per day" (Clark, 12/18).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.