MYRTLE BEACH, S.C. (WMBF) - The U.S. is seeing a growing physician shortage and it's impacting doctors in both primary and specialty health care.
A recent study shows a shortage in OBGYN doctors could spike in coming years.
The shortage would impact more than just women expecting children; it would be detrimental to women's health.
Currently, there are several rural counties in South Carolina that do not have an obstetrician practicing in the area.
The recent study by Doximity looks at areas across the country with older OBGYN populations and high workloads. While there appears to be concern nationwide, Horry County doctors said they aren't dealing with any shortage now.
Still, with Myrtle Beach ranked the second fastest-growing metropolitan area in the country, some fear it could happen.
Doctors said the lack of access to prenatal care can lead to pre-term births.
Officials with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said an average of 700 mothers die each year from pregnancy-related causes in the U.S.
Doctors said maternal death rates in the U.S. have doubled over the last 20 years as complications increase. Dr. Paul Richardson, the chief medical officer at Conway Medical Center, said the hospital delivers about 1,400 babies a year, noting they deliver more babies than any other hospital in Horry County.
With the growing population, Richardson said there's not enough physicians available to keep up with the demand.
"What we are seeing, we are seeing physician retirement. We are seeing that not to a great degree here yet, but we do have some physicians on our medical staff that are retirement age, and probably over the next few years may choose to retire. They've earned it,” he said.
According to Richardson, CMC is not currently facing a shortage, but in an effort combat one, the hospital actively recruits year-round and has training programs in place in the hopes that people who train here will stay here.