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Am J Obstet Gynecol. 2012 Aug;207(2):81-6. doi: 10.1016/j.ajog.2012.06.045. Epub 2012 Jun 23.

Obstetrician/gynecologist hospitalists: can we improve safety and outcomes for patients and hospitals and improve lifestyle for physicians?

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  • 1PeaceHealth St. Joseph Medical Center, Bellingham, WA, USA.


Over the last 5 years, a new obstetric-gynecologic hospitalist model has emerged rapidly, the primary focus of which 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 that new residency graduates receive in critical skills that are needed on labor and delivery; the void in critical care of the laboring patient that is created by the outpatient focus of many physicians in maternal-fetal medicine; 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 limited mostly 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 164 known obstetrician/gynecologist hospitalist programs across the United States, with 2 more coming on each month; the newly formed Society of Obstetrician/Gynecologist Hospitalists currently has >80 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.

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