Neurosurgeon Crunch Easing On Coast

Dr. Eric Wolfson had heard all the stories about doctor shortages and the lack of affordable malpractice insurance in Mississippi. He knew his skills were needed here. Dr. Wolfson will work side by side with Biloxi Regional's only other neurosurgeon. "I knew there was a need for a neurosurgeon to come forth and help with neurosurgical services here. I think part of it was because of the malpractice situation which is the same in the state where I'm from, from Pennsylvania. However it looked like the, it looked like this area, this state, was moving forward toward tort reform which is something really important."

While lawmakers struggled last year to find a way to help keep doctors on the job in Mississippi, patients with head and spinal injuries were being sent to other hospitals, and sometimes even out of state, for treatment because neurosurgeons are in short supply. Dr. Wolf says that can mean the difference between life and death. "It can actually have a negative impact on the outcome if there's a delay in treatment in certain types of neurosurgical emergencies. Time really is important in saving, as far as neurological outcome, the longer there's pressure let's say on the brain from a hemmorrage that can absolutely have a negative impact."

The neurosurgeon crunch shortage has eased somewhat since last year. With the arrival of Dr. Wolfson at Biloxi Regional,  there are now five neurosurgeons covering emergencies in Harrison, Hancock and Jackson Counties. That's compared to two doctors last summer who were on emergency call.