Purpose: To clarify the recent perception of shortfalls in anesthesia physician resources, two models were used to assess these resources in Ontario, Canada.
Methods: Two models, demand-based and benchmarking, were used. In the demand-based model estimated future supply and attrition were obtained from information on Ontario Ministry of Health funded trainees. Data from the Canadian Residents Matching Service and the Association of Canadian University Departments of Anesthesia were also used. Current demand was identified from a telephone survey of Departments of Anesthesia in ten Ontario cities. The number of anesthesia practitioners in Ontario was estimated from the 1996 Canadian Anesthesiologists' Society Physician Resource Database (CASPRD) in the demand-based model. In the benchmarking model, using Alberta as the closest published analogue to Ontario, the annual specialist growth rate in Ontario since 1986 was calculated in the literature as 2.8%/yr for 1986-1994. The number of anesthesiologists in Ontario from the 1986 CASPRD was used to calculate need based on that growth rate. Results are compared with population to anesthesiologist (P/A) ratios calculated from Statistics Canada population data and physician numbers from CASPRD.
Results: A shortfall in the number of anesthesiologists has been identified. The P/A ratio worsened by 17.6% from 1986 to 1996. The demand-based model indicated that the shortfall is increased from a current deficit of 40 to 68 by 2005, using CASPRD. Benchmarking showed that the estimated shortfall in 1994 was 131.
Conclusion: This conservative approach indicates that the shortfall in anesthesiologist physician resources will worsen by 2005.