If you are an expecting mother in the Houston area, do you know who will
be delivering your baby? Many women carefully select an OB/GYN after considering
many different factors. Establishing trust and rapport with a physician
can provide a great deal of reassurance when the big moment arrives. A
new nationwide trend, though, may change who delivers the baby and provides
care when a woman goes into labor.
Typically, OB/GYNs are on call when their patient goes into labor. However,
some hospitals have started using a different model of doctor availability.
These facilities have begun utilizing “laborists,” or “OB
hospitalists,” who are already at the hospitals and ready to deliver
babies and provide immediate maternity care. According to one doctor,
this allows his patients a safe route to delivery. There is a trade-off,
though, as patients must forfeit familiarity in order to obtain availability.
Safe deliveries are critical for a number of reasons, one of which is to
avoid birth injuries in babies and health problems in mothers. On the
one hand, using laborists who are already at hospitals allows for immediate
care; as many families know, time is of the essence when a woman goes
into labor. At the same time, however, this new setup can remove the trusted
familiar face from the delivery process. A doctor who doesn’t thoroughly
know their patient may inadvertently overlook key concerns or fail to
respond to existing issues. Still, an on call OB/GYN who is not truly
there for their patient can also be a negligent doctor in some circumstances.
Across the country, about 250 hospitals now utilize laborists. While this
may not seem like many, only about ten medical centers used the model
a decade ago. It remains to be seen whether this setup will add to or
take away from patient safety. Families who have suffered birth injuries
due to an unfamiliar doctor can seek legal advice from a Houston medical