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  • Maximum Call Days

    Situation: Employed surgical subspecialist for a community hospital system- not a trauma center and level 1 trauma center with plenty of specialty coverage within 1 hr distance.
    Group: previously 3 Doctors 10 days/month call, now only 2 Doctors. (currently hiring but no solution in sight at least for several months)
    Contract: states if call pool drops below 3, organization and Physician come to mutually beneficial agreement
    Call: Not too busy, probably shouldn't complain 10 days a month is a lot but doable; 15 is definitely too much.
    Financially: May be better for hospital financially to just go without coverage and transfer rather than pay locum.

    Current situation that "works" for my partner: 10 days month full call, 5 days month of Pager only call. Pager only call very loosely defined as call for our practice but not on call to ED or Hospital Floor unless it is one of our practice patients. I have asked for clarification if I can leave state and be on "pager only call". No extra compensation.

    Issue: These 5 days of Pager only call still end up feeling like full call just slightly less busy. ER and Floor still calls us as many patients in community have seen my specialty at one point in time. Also being on call for our own surgical patients essentially makes me hesitant to not be available. If a complication comes in and they call me and i'm unavailable it seems like a legal grey zone. I'm not against being on call and i'm not against working, however 15 days a month not being able to have drink or leave the area and do fun things significantly limits my idea of a good lifestyle. Ive been doing the above system now for nearly 3 months. Ive asked for clarification but this COVID thing is taking priority. Love my Job, administration is actually great but 15 days call/month regardless of how busy is probably not something I can do long term.

    Question: What would be your solution and how aggressive would you be? I don't really want to work > 10 days month call as my contract says I can be firm on. Money is not the issue it's my time. What do other people do for your post surgical/practice patients if they have a complication do you send them to neighboring hospital if no one is on call? Would you just tough it out and insist on more money? Thoughts appreciated

  • #2
    Since you are an employee and they're asking a lot of you, I'd tell them you want 1.5x the money to cover those 5 days extra and put a time limit on it of like 3-4 months to allow them to get a new hire. We have lots of docs in my practice, but there is no chance we'd decide on a call situation where our own practice's patients would get sent elsewhere.

    We recently had the opposite thing happen at one hospital where they decided they wanted to employ their own ortho docs and they would take call. We don't get paid for call anymore for them, but we agreed that they would call us on any/all patients that requested us or were prior patients of our practice (regardless of how long ago that was).

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    • #3
      Just hold firm that call will not be more than 10 days a month -

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      • #4
        I don't have much to add other than I can relate to your struggle/concern. I'm also a surgical subspecialist and we don't have enough providers to cover call. Even when I'm "not on call" I'm still on call for my patients and post-ops. The hospital will try to go uncovered occassionally, but when an emergency arrives, even though I'm not on call, it becomes my responsibility. I have 21 days of call this month and covered an emergency on Friday when I wasn't on call. I agree with you, it's not about money, it's about time and quality of life. It's a difficult situation to remedy and not sustainable long term.

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