Hospitalists and Anesthesiologists As Perioperative Physicians: Are Their Roles Complementary?
In recent years, there has been an increased emphasis on the role of anesthesiologists as perioperative physicians. However, a new group of physicians called hospitalists has emerged and established a role as perioperative physicians. Most hospitalists have specialized in internal medicine and its subspecialties. We reviewed American medical literature over the last 13 years on the roles of anesthesiologists and hospitalists as perioperative physicians. Results showed that the concept of the anesthesiologist as the perioperative physician is strongly supported by the American Board of Anesthesiology and the leaders of the specialty. However, most anesthesiologists limit their practice to intraoperative care and immediate acute postoperative care in the postanesthesia care unit. The hospitalists may fill a different role by caring for patients in the preoperative and sometimes in the postoperative period, allowing the surgeon to focus on surgery. These roles of the anesthesiologists and the hospitalists as perioperative physicians may be complementary. We conclude that if anesthesiologists and hospitalists work together as perioperative physicians, with each specialty bringing its expertise to the care of the perioperative patient, care is likely to improve. It is necessary to be proactive and identify areas of future cooperation and collaboration. **********