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Team Effort to Combat Fractures


 

A joint venture between a hospitalist and an orthopedist in rural Minnesota is targeting geriatric fracture patients, and aims to reduce lengths of stay and morbidity.

The program, created by Northern Orthopedics and St. Joseph's Medical Center in Brainerd, Minn., has developed a toolkit for elderly fracture patients. The kit includes a pictorial guidebook, postoperative instructions and rehabilitation information, and early discharge planning. Only a half-dozen or so patients have used the service since its January launch, but developers say the purpose is to pair a surgeon with a hospitalist soon after a patient's admission to ensure that other medical problems are treated alongside any fractures.

"The fracture is not really the biggest problem," says Ben Robertson, MD, a surgeon with Northern Orthopedics. "The surgeon can deal with that. These patients, after we fix their hip fracture ... there's a whole host of medical problems that can happen."

That's where St. Joseph's hospitalist Jim Baumgartner, MD, steps in. The early introduction of a hospitalist allows Dr. Baumgartner to know a patient's treatment history, keep an eye out for medical-related complications, and set up corresponding treatment programs. Dr. Baumgartner says the Minnesota program—modeled after one at the University of Rochester—could be replicated at other hospitals to produce better functional outcomes.

"Everybody works together from the beginning," Dr. Baumgartner says. "The results are patients getting better faster, shorter lengths of stay, and much more efficient resource utilization. This is what hospitalists are geared for."

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