Today’s hospitalists have an increasing role in the medical management of surgical patients. Co-management is loosely defined as the shared responsibility, authority and accountability for the care of a hospitalized patient across clinical specialties. In the case of co-managed surgical patients, the patient’s surgeon manages the surgery related treatments and a hospitalist manages the patient’s medical conditions. While there are opportunities for hospitalists to add real value as co-managers of surgical patients (e.g. in optimizing the medical care of patients with significant co-morbidities such as heart failure and diabetes, and reducing post-operative complications such as venous thromboembolism), the general definition of co-management is vague and varies markedly from one hospital to another. This lack of a clear definition of co-management or identified best practices leaves hospitalist leaders on their own to determine the parameters of their co-management services and may lead to confusion of roles, miscommunication and less than optimal patient care.

In light of this evolving role for hospitalists, the Society of Hospital Medicine (SHM) chartered a Task Force and subsequently, an Advisory Panel to provide guidance and develop resources on co-management for the specialty of orthopedic surgery. This white paper is a synopsis of those best practices identified through the study of numerous co-management programs throughout the country. The guidelines and recommendations described throughout this paper will assist institutions in developing comprehensive plans for program development and avoiding potential pitfalls. The Advisory Panel concluded that while there are variations in the way co-management programs have been established and operate, there is consensus about the factors common to the most effective programs. Thus, this white paper does not provide an exact recipe for how to build a successful program, but provides the essential program ingredients.

Click here to view the white paper.