RE: July 29th letter from Charles Lague, “The Ultimate Outsourcing”
A recent opinion published in the July 29th edition of the Sun News offered the author’s thoughts on the nationwide trend toward use of hospital medicine specialists to provide care for hospital inpatients. As a local family physician whose practice has recently transitioned outpatient-only, I wanted to share my perspective. Medicine has become much more specialized over the past few years, and many healthcare needs once managed in the hospital are now managed in the outpatient arena. As a result many physicians--including primary care doctors-- no longer see patients in the hospital, and instead focus on their office practice and refer their patients to hospitalists for their inpatient care.
This is really no different than when we refer a patient to a cardiologist or any other specialist. It certainly does not constitute an “abandonment” of the patient as the letter writer alleges. By having the hospitalist take care of the patient in the hospital, the patient has access to a physician who is physically present in the hospital throughout the day, works in collaboration with other specialists and the patient’s primary care physician, and can respond more quickly than I can from my office. Likewise, by not having to round at the hospital, my partners and I are able to open the office earlier, allowing more focused time to take care of our office patients. This should translate into those office patients not requiring hospitalization as often.
Patient satisfaction surveys show that Georgetown Memorial Hospital and Waccamaw Community Hospital patients are as happy now with the care provided by Eagle Hospitalists as they were when their inpatient care was provided by their primary care physician. With 80% or more of my daily patient contacts being outpatients, it makes sense that I would try to focus on improving their care if there was a good resource available to take care of the other 2-4 patients per day I would have seen in the hospital.
The majority of primary care physicians nationwide have either transitioned their practice to outpatient-only, or have been outpatient-only their entire practice. All of the hospitals in the area, including Grand Strand, McLeod, MUSC, and Roper, utilize hospitalists, as do all of the nation’s top hospitals as ranked by US News and World Reports. Eagle Hospitalist Physicians have been practicing at Waccamaw Community Hospital and Georgetown Memorial Hospital for over five years now. Over that time, they have provided quality care to thousands of patients. Any medications they prescribe or procedures they recommend, they do in collaboration with the patient. Eagle Hospitalists are all board-certified in either Internal Medicine or Family Medicine, and are vetted through the same credentialing process as all other physicians practicing at our hospitals.
I have worked alongside most of the hospitalists over the past five years, and trust them to take good care of my patients. I am not “abdicating any and all responsibility for the welfare of my patients” by allowing the hospitalists to care for them in the hospital, and in fact will ask my patients to let me know if they have any concerns about the care the hospitalists provide.
H. Grady Adkins, MD
The writer lives in xxx.