COVID-19 California Physician Survey: Do Critical Care Doctors Have What They Need?


Previous Poll Results

Get all the results from CHCF’s surveys of California’s health care providers and the general public in this collection.

To help Californians and state policymakers understand evolving demands on the state’s health care system during the COVID-19 pandemic, CHCF is working with survey firms on two fronts. CHCF and global survey firm Ipsos are assessing residents’ desire for COVID-19 testing and their access to health care services. CHCF and Truth on Call, a physician market-research firm, are surveying hospital-based critical care, emergency department, and infectious disease physicians about staffing and the availability of testing, personal protective equipment (PPE), intensive care unit beds, and ventilators. Download the charts and data for your own presentations and analyses.

In a statewide survey released today by CHCF and Truth on Call, 74% of hospital-based critical care physicians surveyed say that patients and health care workers at their hospital who need it can get tested for COVID-19 right now. The remaining 26% say they did not have enough testing available to meet current needs.

Seven in 10 say their hospital has adequate supplies of PPE for clinicians to treat the patients they have right now. The remaining 30% say they lack sufficient PPE to meet current needs.

Surveyed physicians were asked if patients and health care workers at their hospital who need to be tested for the virus that causes COVID-19 can obtain a test right now. Overall, 74% of physicians report that testing is available, and 68% of safety-net physicians — defined as serving a patient population consisting of 30% or more of Medi-Cal or uninsured patients — report that the testing is available. In a question about PPE, 70% of all physicians say they have adequate PPE to treat the patients they have right now, while 67% of doctors in the safety net say they have enough PPE.

Physicians express more concern about having what they need in the coming weeks. Physicians were asked to rank on a scale of one to five — with one being “not worried” and five being “extremely worried” — the availability of PPE, intensive care unit beds, ventilators, and staffing to treat COVID-19 patients along with other critical care patients they expect to see in the next month.

Nearly two-thirds of physicians (66%) rate their level of worry about PPE as four or five, suggesting that they are very or extremely worried about shortages at their hospital in the coming month. Safety-net providers are slightly more worried.

On the adequacy of ICU space and ventilator supplies for patients in the next month, 62% of physicians rate their level of worry at a four or five. Again, safety-net providers are slightly more concerned.

On the question of whether physicians are worried about insufficient numbers of health care providers to meet patient needs in the next month at their institution, 50% rate their worry at a four or a five.

The physicians were surveyed from March 26 to March 31, 2020. On March 30, California Governor Gavin Newsom announced the creation of the California Health Corps to boost the state’s health care workforce. Tens of thousands of people have already signed up.

The data released today represent a benchmark. CHCF and Truth on Call will continue to survey doctors in the coming weeks. See all of the results in our collection.

This survey was conducted online using Truth on Call‘s proprietary physician database. Responses were solicited over email, and methods were employed to ensure a representative sample of physicians treating at least 30% of patients who are on Medi-Cal or who are uninsured. The study consisted of 140 California physicians practicing emergency medicine, critical care, or infectious disease in a hospital setting. Responses were collected between March 26 and March 31, 2020. Truth on Call is a division of Slingshot Insights.

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