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The Critical Care Professional Societies Address the Critical Care Crisis in the United States*

Richard S. Irwin; Lynne Marcus; Alvin Lever
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*From the Pulmonary, Allergy, and Critical Care Medicine Division (Dr. Irwin), University of Massachusetts Medical School, Worcester, MA; and the American College of Chest Physicians (Ms. Marcus and Mr. Lever), Northbrook, IL.

Correspondence to: Richard S. Irwin, MD, FCCP, Pulmonary, Allergy, and Critical Care Medicine Division, U Mass Memorial Medical Center, 55 Lake Avenue North, Worcester, MA; e-mail: irwinr@ummhc.org



Chest. 2004;125(4):1512-1513. doi:10.1378/chest.125.4.1512
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The four major critical care societies in the United States—the American Association of Critical Care Nurses (AACN), the American College of Chest Physicians (ACCP), the American Thoracic Society (ATS), and the Society of Critical Care Medicine (SCCM)—have united in their efforts to address the manpower shortage of health-care providers who care for the critically ill. This is one of the most pressing issues affecting the future of our aging population and American medicine.

While it has been generally acknowledged and widely appreciated that the shortages in nursing, respiratory care practitioners, and pharmacists have already reached crisis levels, there had been conflicting forecasts of the adequacy of the present and future physician labor market throughout the 1990s.14 Because of this, the ACCP, ATS, and SCCM formed the Committee on Manpower for Pulmonary and Critical Care Societies (COMPACCS) in 1995 and commissioned a study with the following goals: (1) determine current patterns of care for the critically ill and patients with pulmonary disease, (2) anticipate how demand for care might change in the future, and (3) project supply based on the current workforce and training. The COMPACCS study,5 published in 2000, has convincingly predicted that the aging of the population of the United States will create a demand for care that will outpace the future supply of critical care medicine specialists, and that the effects of this shortfall in manpower will start to reach crisis proportions after 2007.

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