How to Say Yes to More Efficient ED Surgical Management

The problem is all too familiar: Hospitals that rely on community surgeons for trauma and acute care surgery coverage can be challenged by the difficulties of delivering timely, around-the-clock emergency surgical care. In addition to the usual coverage issues, at the core there is something so basic to success you’ll even find it on every high school playing field—teamwork. Lack of it can spell serious trouble and prove costly.

Granted, emergencies demand quick action. But think about it: When a group of independent surgeons and in-house clinicians are assembled in the middle of the night, they often are not practiced at pulling together as a team. Even with their skills and experience, community surgeons can bring with them the protocols, policies and procedures implemented at their own practices. Other members of the surgical team may not know what to expect during complex procedures, and communication can be poor once the surgeon has left the premises.

The result can be patient complications and procedural issues. Handoffs may be confusing due to incomplete or inconsistent record-keeping, impacting follow-up care. This has major implications for patient safety, length of stay, patient satisfaction, staff morale and, of course, reimbursements.

Enlisting the surgical support to reliably care for emergency patients 24/7/365 means access to a surgical team with leadership, accountability and standardized policies and procedures that support the same quality of care that patients receive elsewhere in the hospital.

This begins by building a Culture of Yes around processes, procedures and a shared set of care team expectations and clear responsibilities throughout each patient’s hospital stay. It’s a culture that seeks clinical context for decision-making, avoids gaps in care and supports care continuity. It requires standard protocols to be followed by individual team members during each stage of an emergency surgical intervention to ensure safety and efficiency. Ultimately, this approach will boost provider confidence and morale because each team member has clearly defined responsibilities and goals that promote smooth integrated workflow.

Ahh…but that’s a tall order when the surgeons who lead the patient care team are themselves individualists. A modern answer is to rely on surgeons who are committed teammates—surgicalists. Perhaps best understood as surgical hospitalists, surgicalists are board-certified or -eligible surgeons who lead contracted surgical teams. They provide dedicated, on-duty emergency and trauma surgery coverage 24/7/365. Given that, they readily adopt and contribute to the hospital’s standardized surgical policies and procedures and align with the overall hospital culture.

SAMGI has been setting the standard in surgicalist recruiting, training and management for over 25 years. Our programs have demonstrated time and time again the value of managed surgical teams with clear procedural guidelines based on a hospital’s individual needs. Programs built around a Culture of Yes generate reliable, controlled data that guide a facility through continuous process improvement and creation of evidence-based Best Practice guidelines. Our hand-picked, highly skilled surgicalist teams have helped hospitals nationwide leverage this growing paradigm to provide enhanced surgical care and deliver on their mission to serve their community, while driving tangible, substantial ROIs. Click here to learn more about surgicalists and creating a dedicated emergency surgical team.