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Hospital Laborists: A New Trend in Labor and Delivery

A new trend within the OBGYN community is catching on and quickly growing in popularity nationwide. An article in USA Today discusses how an increasing number of hospitals are hiring OB hospitalists, also commonly referred to as laborists, to ensure that they are always ready when obstetric or gynecological emergencies occur.

The Society of OBGYN Hospitalists (SOGH) defines a laborist as “an experienced OBGYN physician with a practice focused on managing the OBGYN care of the hospitalized patient.” These doctors are paid by the hospital to be readily available inside of the facility for a specified shift.

According to reports, there are several causes for this rising trend:

*Hospitals are looking for ways to decrease their risk of malpractice lawsuits
*Low patient satisfaction rates
*Doctors not wanting to remain on call for long periods of time
*OBGYNS who prefer to work for a steady salary, instead of managing an independent medical practice
*Increased reliance on nurses who must often perform deliveries when the on-call physician does not arrive in time

Kyle Garner is chief of obstetrics and gynecology at Sarasota Memorial Hospital in Florida. He is quoted in the article as stating, “There has been a generational shift that modern physicians who come out of residency programs tend to want a better work-life balance, and the hospitalist program allows doctors to have that…”

Improvements in Care?

According to a report in the American Journal of OBGYNs, one Las Vegas hospital that employs a full time OBGYN hospitalist showed a six percent decrease in C-section rates. Several other medical facilities also claim substantial reductions in C-section rates. SOGH asserts that the use of laborists is proven to decrease malpractice costs for hospitals and doctors alike. The initiative is reportedly supported by a number of midwifery groups, nurses, OB GYNs and other medical professionals. This may explain why there are currently 250 hospitals nationwide employing laborists, compared to only 10 a short decade ago. Several Illinois hospitals utilize these professionals, including the University of Illinois College of Medicine, Rockford.

The Argument Against

As reported in the USA Today article, some OBGYNs are not happy about this growing trend, claiming that it turns obstetrics into shift work and encourages physicians to miss their patients’ deliveries. Edward Yeoman is chairman of OBGYN at Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center. He is quoted in the article as stating, “It goes against what I feel is the major calling of OBGYN to be caring for their patients for months and years. … I think the previous generation of OBGYNs had more of a sense of obligation to be there for their patients no matter what.”

Whether the birth of your baby occurs with the assistance of your treating OBGYN or a hospital laborist, you are owned a duty of care. When problems arise, leaving you or your infant injured, secure the services of an experienced attorney to get you the compensation you deserve.

Contact the birth injury attorneys of Levin & Perconti today at (877) 374-1417 for a free consultation.