An Iowa doctor disputes a report in this week’s New England Journal of Medicine that says there may be too many baby doctors at some hospitals. The study looked at neonatologists, doctors who work with premature and very sick newborn babies. Blank Hospital neonatologists Susan Harrell says the researchers figured more doctors would mean more sick babies would be saved from dying. She says they found out at the low end, there were too few doctors and fewer babies survived, but they couldn’t conclude there were too many doctors. Harrell points out that sick-baby specialty isn’t the kind of doctor people take for granted. Nobody thinks about needing such a doctor, she says, or wants to have the kind of problem that requires a specialist in newborn or preemie intensive care. Dr. Harrell says some places may appear to have too many doctors because they’re concentrated in a few specialized medical centers.She says you have to be in a place where you can serve patients, and Iowa offers Des Moines’s infant care specialists in the center, U of I hospitals out east and Nebraska care centers to the west. The doctor says the study may show too few baby doctors can mean less survival, but doesn’t prove some places have too many doctors, since survival rates will never reach 100-percent. The doctor says no matter how much equipment, you can do everything possible but not always do enough to save every “pree-mee” She says it’s not money-driven, and most doctors would do it without pay because it’s where their heart is.
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