Rural emergency care is complex and challenging. Today, a quarter of rural hospitals are at high risk of closing and more than 350 rural hospitals across 40 states are vulnerable.
Patients in rural areas face unique challenges, whether they are managing multiple conditions or they are simply more at risk given the limited number of health service providers or nearby primary care options.
According to a recent study, the nation’s rural emergency physician shortage is expected to worsen in the coming years. Of the 48,835 clinically active emergency physicians in the United States, 92 percent (44,908) practice in urban areas with just 8 percent (3,927) practicing in rural communities, down from 10 percent in 2008.
Nearly one in five Americans rely on rural health care, and emergency physicians in these areas encounter many of the same challenges as their colleagues who practice in larger cities with more resources, such as staffing shortages and drug shortages.
If you live in a rural area, stay informed and be prepared for the need to visit the emergency department in your community for any medical emergency.