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Lean on me

March 2011

Hospitalists could save themselves a lot of time and anxiety by learning to trust. The problem is that the best of us are control freaks who want to check everything for ourselves, and as a result we’re afraid to leave at the end of the day.

But wait a minute. You know that cardiologist, and if he finds something in the cath lab that can’t wait until tomorrow, he’ll call you (or call the CV surgeon, whichever is more appropriate). Same for the surgeon; you spoke to his secretary who recognizes your voice by now and can be counted on to pass that consult on to him. It may be a shock tomorrow when you arrive and the patient is in intensive care, but hey, the problem was handled. You didn’t have to be there.

Worried about that afternoon hematocrit? Call the nurse or use the online EMR. You’ll get the same result as if you check it from the nursing floor.

Yes, there are times we need to be there as the family gathers in the postsurgical unit. And DKA happens, along with other problems that require twice-daily visits. But most of our patients have good nurses and trustworthy consultants … and our partner working tonight knows his stuff.

So can we try to let go occasionally? Sure, the hospital is our home turf, but we need to get away from it both mentally and physically for part of every day. Learning to trust our friends and coworkers to do things right is part of making sure the job doesn’t burn us out.