Sunday, June 19, 2005

Signout rules for partners

Although I'm not on call this weekend, I am going to start a week of being on call tomorrow. When I came across this Letter to My Partners by Ad Libitum, I just had to mention it.

Partners cover for each other routinely, and there is nothing more helpful to a surgeon or internist with sick patients than good partners. If you can't trust your partners to take care of your patients when you are not around as well as you would have taken care of them, then you will always have serious anxiety about taking a weekend off or leaving for a meeting or vacation. Fortunately, this is not a problem in our group, but sometimes I get frustrated with how my partners sign out. Our call is a little different in that we are usually on call for a week at a time, during which time we cover new consults during the week (and everyone covers their own patients unless they are out of town), but during the weekends cover the group's patients. Also, most of our patients are not in the ICU, and often none of them are. We also have residents, who can fill in gaps in our knowledge about the patients as they come up. Consequently, unlike Ad Libitum, for our practice it isn't really necessary or desirable to round together on all the patients, and telephone signout is just fine.

Otherwise, though, Ad Libitum's suggestions constitute sound advice for handling signout.

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