A crisis in the delivery of care to patients with brain injuries in South Texas

Stephen M. Cohn, Michelle A. Price, Ronald M. Stewart, Joel E. Michalek, Daniel L. Dent, Marilyn J. McFarland, Basil A. Pruitt

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

12 Scopus citations


BACKGROUND: To determine the opinions of neurosurgeons regarding the care of the injured and to assess the impact of these attitudes on the care of the patients with brain injuries. METHODS: A survey was sent to the 2,465 active members of the American Association of Neurologic Surgeons. A manpower assessment of neurosurgical coverage of South Texas was also performed. RESULTS: In total, 872 surveys were returned (35%). Seventy-one percent of the respondents were over the age of 44. Eighty-seven percent of neurosurgeons stated that they currently provide trauma care: 74% at Level I or II trauma centers. The majority of neurosurgeons treated <5 trauma patients per week, 80% placed 2 or fewer intracranial pressure (ICP) monitors per month. Fifty-nine percent of the respondents preferred not to treat trauma patients because of (1) perceived increased medicolegal risk (80%), (2) conflict with elective practice (75%), (3) time required (70%), and (4) inadequate compensation (65%). Fifty-six percent received no compensation for trauma call. The majority of neurosurgeons indicated that no personnel other than neurosurgeons should be allowed to perform trauma craniotomies (90%) or insert ICP monitors (76%). However, 61% thought that non-neurosurgeons should be able to perform neuro-critical care. A maldistribution of neurosurgeons was identified in South Texas, with much of the population uncovered for trauma care. Significant delays in definitive neurosurgical care were identified as a result of this maldistribution. CONCLUSIONS: One-half of neurosurgeons prefer not to care for trauma patients because of perceived added time commitment, conflicts with elective practice, lack of compensation, and perceived medicolegal risk. But, they thought that only neurosurgeons should provide emergency neurosurgical procedures. These attitudes appear to impinge on the care of the patients with brain injuries in South Texas.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)951-962
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of Trauma - Injury, Infection and Critical Care
Issue number4
StatePublished - Apr 1 2007


  • Head injury
  • Management
  • Neurosurgeon
  • Survey

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery
  • Critical Care and Intensive Care Medicine


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