OB/GYN Hospitalists: Can we improve safety and outcomes for patients, hospitals, and improve life style for physicians?
Over the last five years a new obstetric-gynecologic hospitalist model has rapidly emerged whose primary focus is the care and safety of the laboring patient. The need for this type of practitioner has been driven by a number of factors: various types of patient safety programs that require a champion and organizer; the realization that bad outcomes and malpractice lawsuits often result from the lack of immediate availability of a physician in the labor and delivery suite; the desire for many younger practicing physicians to seek a balance between their personal and professional lives; the appeal of shift work as opposed to running a busy private practice; the waning amount of training new residency graduates receive in critical skills needed on labor and delivery; the void in critical care of the laboring patient created by the outpatient focus of many MFM physicians; the need for hospitals to have a group of physicians to implement protocols and policies on the unit; and, the need for teaching in all hospitals not just academic centers. By having a dedicated group of physicians whose practice is mostly limited to the care of the labor and delivery aspects of patient care, there is great potential to address many of these needs. There are currently 161 known OB/GYN Hospitalist programs across the United States, with two more coming on each month and the newly formed Society of OB/GYN Hospitalists currently has over 70 individual members This article addresses the advantages, challenges, and variety of hospitalist models and will suggest that what may be considered an emerging trend is actually a sustainable model for improved patient care and safety.