Guidelines for Consultants to the Trauma Service

My last two posts were dedicated to the use of consultants for your trauma patients. Here are my thoughts on best practices in using their services.

Trauma surgeons often rely on consultants to assist in the care of their patients. Orthopedic surgeons and neurosurgeons are some of the more frequent consultants, but various other surgical and medical specialists may be needed. I have found that providing guidelines to consultants helps ensure quality care and good communication between caregivers and patients/families.

We have disseminated guidelines to our colleagues, and I wanted to touch on some of the main points. You can download the full document using the link at the bottom of this post.

To deliver the highest quality and most cost-effective care, we request that the services we consult do the following:

  • Please introduce yourself to our patient and their family, and explain why you are seeing them.
  • Although you may discuss your findings with the patient, please discuss all recommendations with a member of the trauma service first. This avoids patient confusion if the trauma team chooses not to implement any recommendations due to other patient factors you may not be aware of.
  • Document your consultation results in writing (paper or EMR) promptly.
  • If additional tests, imaging, or medications are recommended, discuss with the trauma service first. If appropriate, we will write the orders or clear you to do so and discuss the plan with the patient.
  • We round at specific daily times and welcome your attendance and input.
  • Please communicate any post-discharge instructions to us or enter into the medical record so we can expedite the discharge process and ensure all follow-up visits are scheduled.

Bottom line: A uniform “code of behavior” is essential! Ensuring good patient communication is paramount. They need to hear the same plans from all of their caregivers, or else they will lose faith in us. One of the most important lessons I have learned over the years is that you do not need to implement every recommendation that a consultant makes. They may not be aware of the most current trauma literature and will not be familiar with how their recommendations may impact other injuries.

Click here to download a sample Trauma Services consultant guidelines document.

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