Who Asked the Patient if She Wants a Hospitalist?

January 30, 2012

Sally hired Beth, the most sought after wedding planner in Centerville to coordinate her wedding at the Community House, a high-end hotel.  Beth planned the flowers, the menu and every other aspect of the ceremony and reception. You see, Sally had hired Beth for her expertise; the Community House was just the place, a nice place, where the event would occur.

But when the big day came, Sally, and Beth, were shocked to find that the Community House’s on-staff event manager changed the theme from sophisticated charm to down-home country. No more roses, but daisies. No more jazz band, but country fiddler.

This is the same experience that patients suffer when the post-surgical care that they expect to receive from the surgeon performing their operation is countermanded by a hospitalist hired by, or contracted to, and economically beholden to the hospital.

This is a growing issue for office practice physicians, who don’t view themselves as mere technicians but as actually having a physician-patient relationship with their patients. Hospitals, on the other hand, want to relegate physicians to technician status, so, sorry Doc, the guy we hired will take over your patient’s care.

We can argue back and forth, I suppose, over the two physicians’ relative positions (but I am right).

However, I consider the issue of what the patient expected to be of paramount importance.

If I wanted a team approach I would establish a relationship with a team from the outset. If I wanted a relationship with a surgeon and that surgeon needs a team and explains that to me then I would understand.

But for the hospital, or for the hospitalist, to make that decision should result in battery, a tort.

This is the future that we’re heading into if hospitals, pundits, and the prevalently popular politicians get their way. I will say “I told you so.”

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