Joel D. Howell, MD, PhD
When established ward patients are unexpectedly transferred to an intensive care unit (ICU), the ward team should continue to follow them. Although there may be reasons not to do so, the advantages outweigh the obstacles. Great pedagogic value can be gained from following patients after acute decompensation, but a more important reason is that by following patients into the ICU, the ward team can enact for both patients and their families the twin virtues of caring and continuity. Doing so also demonstrates the highest ideals of medicine—that we are focused not on defined areas of turf, but on our patient's well-being. It shows that we are not merely doing narrowly defined “shift work,” but that we truly care about our patients. Rounding on established patients who have been transferred into the ICU is the sort of behavior that undergirds the fundamental bases of professionalism. It takes a few minutes from a busy day, but it can be incredibly beneficial for families, patients, and the ideals of medicine.
Howell JD. Maintaining Connections: Some Thoughts on the Value of Intensive Care Unit Rounding for General Medicine Ward Teams. Ann Intern Med. ;155:323–324. doi: 10.7326/0003-4819-155-5-201109060-00010
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Published: Ann Intern Med. 2011;155(5):323-324.
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