I’LL REMEMBER 2017 as the year we spent running our 11-year-old son to various EDs and doctor offices. He broke his wrist on the school playground on the third day of school, stepped on a nail sticking out of a board while fishing (that turned into a three-day hospital stay because of a nasty infection), and launched himself into a badly executed somersault off a swing. That last stunt resulted in an ambulance ride to the trauma center when he reported that his legs felt tingly.
As we rotated through hospitals and outpatient offices, I noticed that several of the subspecialists were working with scribes. I hadn’t seen scribes before, so my curiosity was piqued.
My general impression was that having a scribe freed up the doctor to spend more time talking to the patient (my son) and family (me and my wife). It felt a little awkward to be discussed in the third person (“patient has a distal radius fracture”), but we got used to it pretty quickly.
I mention this because scribes are beginning to make inroads into hospital medicine. As our cover story points out, some hospitals figure that paying scribes the $20 to $30 an hour they cost may free up doctors to do more of the things they are good at. And as many regions grapple with severe physician shortages, everyone is trying to find ways to help physicians work more efficiently.
Not surprisingly, some doctors resist the idea of working with scribes, worried that hospital medicine work may be too nuanced for a layperson. Can scribes do a good job documenting assessments and plans, the bread and butter of hospitalist work? Our coverage looks at the pros and cons of working with them, so see what you think.
Editor & Publisher
Published in the May 2018 issue of Today’s Hospitalist