Why are many hospitals turning to Laborists?
- Improve Patient Safety by Having a Doctor Available Immediately
- Special Obstetrical Skills
- Facilitate Communication
Having a baby is scary. It feels less scary if your long-time friend and obstetrician can be there to deliver your baby. The idea of having a doctor you don’t know attend your delivery can be upsetting. A laborist is an obstetrician who works in Labor and Delivery. So why are many hospitals turning to laborists? It is not because your doctor doesn’t want to come to your delivery. Hospitals are trying to make childbirth even safer for the women and babies.
The first advantage for the patient is availability of physicians. The laborist is immediately available throughout the day and night to examine patients, evaluate the progress of labor, react to laboratory abnormalities, and provide a safe delivery. There is no delay as a doctor travels from his office to the hospital. There is no delay to the doctor’s arrival so he can “finish up office hours”. There is no delay when a doctor is caught in a traffic jam or has car trouble. As all obstetricians know, there can be lightning fast changes in the care of the obstetrical patient. Things can go from fine to disaster in just a few minutes. If an emergency occurs, the laborist is already on the scene, ready to respond with lifesaving intervention. The presence of a doctor full-time in Labor and Delivery improves patient safety and decreases danger.
The laborist is available at the hospital whenever the patient or family member has questions regarding care. They can respond immediately to patient needs for anesthesia. They can comfort and reassure an anxious family. They can evaluate worrisome fetal heart rate tracings and stay on top of any problem that might be evolving.
Another advantage of a laborist is to allow for more patient options. Many doctors do not offer their patients a trial of VBAC (Vaginal Birth After Cesarean Section) because they cannot spend 12-20 hours in the hospital at the bedside watching for the uncommon but devastating complication of uterine rupture. A doctor assigned to the maternity unit 24/7/365 allows this safe and appropriate technique to be safely offered to the suitable patient who wishes to have a vaginal delivery after a previous cesarean section.
Another advantage for patients of a laborist is expertise and optimal patient care. The doctor who will be doing the delivery is an expert in all the different delivery techniques such as obstetrical forceps or vacuum. A skilled hospital-based obstetrician can use forceps or a vacuum and spare a patient an unnecessary c-section. The laborist is an expert at difficult delivery. The laborist is skilled at other obstetrical techniques including external cephalic version (turning a breech), twin deliveries, pre-term deliveries, face presentations, and breech deliveries.
Another advantage for patients is communication with other professionals within the hospital. The laborist will be familiar with all of the key players in the hospital including medical and surgery consultants, discharge planners, social workers, clergy, and others. They can expedite care for patients. The amount of phone tag and delays are decreased because the laborist is on site. The laborist can easily facilitate connections with providers of home health care, skilled nursing, specialized rehabilitation, and others.
The Best for You and Your Baby
Patient surveys have shown high levels of satisfaction for hospitalist care. Patients are willing to trade familiarity for availability. You want the best care for yourself and your baby.
You can meet the laborists at your hospital. Most maternity units offer a tour which includes meeting the doctors.
Talk to your doctor. He or she will make sure the laborist has your complete medical record and birth plan. Your doctor will stay in close communication with the laborist about your care. The laborist will make sure that a complete report comes to your doctor about everything that has happened in the hospital. Everyone has your safety and the baby’s health as their most important priority.
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