LUBBOCK, TX (KCBD) - In 1988 the American Board of Medical Specialties began requiring emergency doctors to go through 3 years of specialized residency training to become certified in emergency medicine. Last year the Texas Medical Board looked over their laws and decided a younger association, the American Board of Physician Specialties, could test and certify doctors. The ABPS offers certification in emergency medicine by substituting the 3 years of residency training with at least 5 years of E.R. experience plus an exam. The ABPS does require a residency for certification in other areas such as surgery, pediatrics, or internal medicine. The state medical board meets on October 29th to consider changing the rule.
Joe Sasin is specialty trained in emergency medicine by the ABMS. He trained in residency for the scenarios he sees in the E.R. on a regular basis. He worries that limited emergency room experience isn't equal to the specialized emergency training that he and other certified doctors went through. "There are holes in the gaps of the skill sets of other specialties that don't receive that training during residency," he said.
In emergency situations when seconds count, Sasin says it is important to have someone who is trained. "An emergency medicine trained physician, residency trained, specialty trained, with continuing re-certification, is going to provide a higher standard of care than someone who did not go through those qualifications," he said.
With shortages in the E.R., rural hospitals have a difficult time staffing certified emergency medicine doctors because many of them head to larger cities. "The majority of the smaller communities and hospitals are probably staffed by non-emergency medicine trained physicians," said Sasin.
There is a demand for certified emergency medicine doctors. If the ABPS is allowed to continue certifying doctors it may help smaller hospitals staff their emergency rooms with certified emergency medicine physicians. Many of the hospitals we called or checked on don't have certified emergency medicine physicians. In trauma situations patients are taken to Lubbock to see physicians who have that certification.