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Recent Reports Show Troubling Statistics for Orthopedics 

14 Dec, 2023 F.J. Thomas

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Sarasota, FL (WorkersCompensation.com) – Healthcare has had tremendous staffing issues, largely due to burnout, the last couple of years. According to a November report from Beckers Hospital Review, through October of this year, 126 CEOs have left their position. The exodus represents a 62 percent increase over the 78 that left in 2022.

When it comes to orthopedic surgeons, some studies have shown a 30 to 40 percent burnout rate, with a rate greater than 50 percent for residents. A study released earlier this year found that surgeons aged 45 years and older have 1.5 to 3 times higher rates of suicide ideation than the general public. Additionally, only 26 percent sought out mental health counseling. Orthopedic surgeons account for the largest percentage of physician suicides at 28.2 percent from 2003 to 2017, with over a third occurring the last two years. 

Thirteen percent of orthopedic residents screen positive for depression, and 61 percent meet the criteria for hazardous alcohol use. Overall, surgeons are 362 percent more likely to have a mental health disorder, 139 percent more likely to use alcohol before suicide, and 289 percent are more likely to have legal or civil issues. 

Orthopedic complaints are one of the top reasons that patients seek out medical care in the U.S., with knee and hip replacements making the top of the list. According to recent report from Definitive Healthcare, there were more than 1.4 million knee and hip replacements performed in 2022. Statistics from the American Academy Of Orthopedic Surgeons (AAOS) project that due to the increase in joint replacement procedures, current orthopedic surgeons will either need to double the number of cases they are performing, or increase the number of surgeons by 10 percent every five years to meet the demand. 

There are currently 27,639 orthopedic surgeons across the U.S, and according to the Definitive Healthcare statistics, the number of orthopedic surgeons dropped by 4.3 percent from 2020 to 2023. California has the highest number of orthopedic surgeons at 2,870, followed by Texas at 1,924, and New York at 1,700.

The AAOS has projected that the number of orthopedic surgeons is expected to decrease by 14 percent by 2050. The average joint replacement caseload for an orthopedic surgeon in 2017 was 65.2 procedures. By 2050, the number is expected to increase to 139.4. 

A recent Physician’s Thrive report projects a deficit of 5,050 orthopedic surgeons through 2025. 

When comparing the burnout rates and mental health issues across projected increases in patient demand, it will be interesting to see how healthcare can meet these challenges. 


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    About The Author

    • F.J. Thomas

      F.J. Thomas has worked in healthcare business for more than fifteen years in Tennessee. Her experience as a contract appeals analyst has given her an intimate grasp of the inner workings of both the provider and insurance world. Knowing first hand that the industry is constantly changing, she strives to find resources and information you can use.

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