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Defined: Surgical Home

One group wishes to manage a surgical patient’s entire course of care: anesthesiologists.

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surgical home ['sər-ji-kəl 'hôm] n: a term used to describe the proposed expansion of duties of hospital-based clinicians, especially anesthesiologists, to include coordinating care for surgical patients from admission to discharge. Origin: derivation of medical home, a model of coordinated care for nonsurgical patients.

Using one group of specialists to coordinate the care of surgical patients throughout the course of their hospitalization, the American Society of Anesthesiologists has argued, should lead to more efficient and therefore less expensive treatment. The ASA sees anesthesiologists as particularly well qualified to hold the deed to the surgical home. They are expert in managing the medical and surgical problems of patients, often running preoperative clinics to assess whether a patient is healthy enough to withstand the stress of an operation.

Although the notion is relatively new and largely unproven, several recent studies suggest that anesthesiologist-led surgical home programs can indeed reduce hospital costs, sometimes markedly. So far, however, there’s little compelling data to show that patients fare better under such systems. If that evidence does arrive, surgical patients can expect that their anesthesiologist will be more than just the first and last face they see in the operating room.

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