To meet Federal patient satisfaction goals, our hospital administration is requiring community based physicians to give patient admission orders before we have a chance to see the patient. Patients who self-refer themselves to the emergency department, are evaluated by the emergency room staff, and who are determined to require admission must be admitted by their community physician within 20 minutes of receiving a call from the ER staff advising the patient requires admission. In most cases, the community physicians have no idea the patient is actually at the ER until they receive that call.
It is bad medicine to issue patient orders on a patient you have not seen, taken a history from or performed an examination on. To complicate matters, the hospital does not require physicians to actually come in and see the patient for 12 hours after admission. Think about it, diagnostic and care orders are being given routinely by doctors who have not examined the patient. The doctors then have the latitude to not show up for half a day to actually do an onsite evaluation.
One of the cardinal rules of medical training is you should do a thorough history and exam before constructing a theory of the causes of an illness and instituting diagnostic and therapeutic measures. The local hospital rule is a direct effort of the hospital to control all aspects of patient care for financial gain. They are buying up practices, revamping medical staff bylaws by manipulating the rules and, filling the decision making committees and legislative physician groups with salaried doctors they control.
Hospitals perceive community based physicians who are advocates for their patients as a threat to their financial planning. The goal is to drive out the community based physicians because they act as a check and balance to the designs of the hospital system working as advocates of their patients. Do not believe for one moment that the goals and aspirations of patients in a community setting are aligned with the goals and aspirations of hospital administration.
I recommend that citizens look into the politics of their local hospital system. If you do not, you may find that your doctor can no longer take care of you when you are sickest and in need of those professional services provided by someone who knows you well. You may find that you are transported from the ER to the floor quickly but you may not get to see a doctor for half a day.
How should this policy be altered to make sense? Staff physicians should have 90 minutes to arrive at the ER and assume the care of their patients. In critical life threatening situations requiring immediate intervention, hospital ER staff should be providing stabilizing care until the patient’s care team arrives.
Requiring doctors to give orders on patients they have not seen is bad medicine. Giving those same doctors 12 hours to show up is irresponsible.
Steven Reznick is an internal medicine physician and can be reached at Boca Raton Concierge Doctor.
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