Saturday, April 19, 2014

SHM 2014: visceral reactions

The 2014 national meeting of the Society of Hospital Medicine was held March 25-27. I've been busy since I got back and am just now getting around to “blogging the conference.” This, I hope, will be but one of a series of posts about the meeting.

Bob Wachter shared some of his thoughts the other day. I thought I'd read his post before starting. Bob can be a little provocative and sure enough his comments got me going.  In Bob's opening I was struck by this:

As Win Whitcomb, who co-founded SHM, wrote to me, the meeting is “a mix of love, deep sense of purpose, community, mission, changing-the world, and just plain sizzle,” and I completely agree.

Unfortunately that quote matches my own observations concerning what the sizzle was about: community, mission, changing the world. But what happened to the clinical care of the individual hospitalized patient? Sadly, there didn't seem to be a lot of energy focused on that aspect. Sure there were clinical break out sessions (yes, they were good and will be the subject of future posts here) but they seemed to be relegated to a lesser status. It was as if the clinical content was incidental. That seems to be the general direction of the organization.

It wasn't always that way. It was different when I first attended our national meeting about a decade ago (when we were known as NAIP, the National Association of Inpatient Physicians). The buzz as I remember it back then was about things like sepsis, pneumonia, mystery cases and complex cases of thromboembolic disease. The focus was clinical.

Not so much nowadays. In the plenary sessions I got the feeling this was a meeting for hospital administrators, policy makers and public health professionals rather than doctors. The “patients” they talked about were the hospitals, the health care systems and the larger communities, not the individuals populating the hospital wards.

We need the leaders of our field to go back to promoting hospitalists as clinicians. Unfortunately I didn't see that happening at SHM 14.

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