An internist's role in perioperative medicine: a survey of surgeons' opinions.
BMC Fam Pract. 2008;9:4
Authors: Pausjenssen L, Ward HA, Card SE
BACKGROUND: Literature exists regarding the perioperative role of internists. Internists rely on this literature assuming it meets the needs of surgeons without actually knowing their perspective. We sought to understand why surgeons ask for preoperative consultations and their view on the internist's role in perioperative medicine. METHODS: Survey of surgeons in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, Canada regarding an internist's potential role in perioperative care. RESULTS: Fifty-nine percent responded. The majority request a preoperative consultation for a difficult case (83%) or specific problem (81%). While almost half feel that a preoperative consultation is to "clear" a patient for surgery, 33% disagree with this statement. The majority believe the internist should discuss risk with the patient. Aspects of the preoperative consultation deemed most important are cardiac medication optimization (93%), cardiac risk stratification (83%), addition of beta-blockers (76%), and diabetes management (74%). CONCLUSION: Surgeons perceive the most important roles for the internist as cardiac risk stratification and medication management. Areas of controversy identified amongst the surgeons included who should inform the patient of their operative risk, and whether the internist should follow the patient daily postoperatively. Unclear expectations have the potential to impact on patient safety and informed consent unless acknowledged and acted on by all. We recommend that internists performing perioperative consults communicate directly with the consulting physician to ensure that all parties are in accordance as to each others duties. We also recommend that the teaching of perioperative consults emphasizes the interdisciplinary communication needed to ensure that patient needs are not neglected when one specialty assumes the other will perform a function.
PMID: 18208614 [PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]