The pain associated with shattered bone, a sports injury, or a fractured hip can be frightening. Especially for those patients who find that treatment at their local hospital means waiting until an orthopedic surgeon can arrive. This delayed treatment is all too common across America and can substantially impact community trust while adversely impacting the overall financial status of the hospital system.
An orthopedic emergency that requires immediate surgical attention is usually the result of some type of trauma, either related to physical activity and recreation, violence, or an accident that occurs during normal activity. Types of injuries that require an orthopedic surgeon include:
Some of these injuries can be life threatening if not managed immediately. Unfortunately, some hospitals have few resources and orthopedic services on hand, resulting in delayed treatment and complications in these emergency situations.
Today, the demand for Orthopedic surgeons to provide hospital services is growing, yet issues to ensure continuity of care has proven challenging. The utilization of surgery programs, such as an Acute Orthopedic Surgery program, may provide a direct solution to this issue by introducing surgeons who are devoted to 24/7 orthopedic care.
An orthopedic surgery program means relying less on locum tenens and on-call physicians and more on reliable, stable surgeons who are available to handle patients at any time of the day or night. “I guarantee you we wouldn’t have orthopedic services if it wasn’t for Surgical Affiliates–there’s not a doubt in my mind,” said Doug Archer, Sutter Health Memorial Hospital administrator in Los Banos, California. In fact, approximately 60,000 people in the area would be without orthopedic services “and they would still be driving to Salinas” if it wasn’t for implementing an emergency orthopedic surgical team at Sutter Health Memorial.
In an orthopedic surgical program, also known as a surgicalist program, surgeons become embedded in the hospital culture and are essential for ensuring efficient patient management while reducing transfers out of the facility. Adding a specialized surgical program adds new dimensions to the hospital setting by increasing the number of patients treated in-house, reducing costs, increasing revenue, and building community value and trust.
Having an orthopedic surgery program in place reduces transfers out of the facility and provides a dedicated team of orthopedic surgeons that are able to treat patients in-house as opposed to sending to a neighboring hospital that is better equipped to handle orthopedic emergencies. Specialized services also help facilitate lower average length of stay for patients, which supports the value-based care model resulting in more efficient patient management.
According to Doug Archer, many physicians who would come to work in the surgery setting at Los Banos would be gone within 2 years of hiring, in part due to the rural setting. “Continuity of care became an issue,” said Archer. Since adding a specialized team of 24/7 emergency surgeons, Memorial Hospital has been able to secure a specialty program with surgeons that stay. “They [orthopedic surgeons] have been able to develop relationships with the other hospital staff,” added Archer, “and they’ve been able to establish themselves even though they don’t live in the community. Primary care physicians are a lot more comfortable referring to someone they know rather than the orthopedist on call, which helps the community a ton. It gives us the ability to really provide a robust and complete specialty service versus piecing it together with locum tenens.”
With the Surgical Affiliates orthopedic surgery program, hospitals can rely on a long-term approach to achieving its orthopedic surgical goals, regardless of the community setting. For rural hospitals, the program may also be helpful when recruitment and retention become challenging.
Contact Surgical Affiliates today to learn more and start improving the quality of healthcare at both the patient and practitioner level.