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Restore the prominence of the medical ward round

BMJ 2013; 347 doi: (Published 31 October 2013) Cite this as: BMJ 2013;347:f6451
  1. Anthony Cohn, consultant paediatrician, Department of Paediatrics, Watford General Hospital, Watford, Hertfordshire WD18 0HB, UK
  1. anthony.cohn{at}

We should value the medical ward round as much as patients do, writes Anthony Cohn, so it needs to be resourced properly in terms of consultants’ time

Picture the scene: cardiac theatres are busy with patients listed for surgery. The sternotomy is performed beautifully, the patient is put on bypass, and veins are deftly removed from the patient’s leg. Being pressed for time, the surgeon realises that she needs to prioritise, so only bypasses one of the three occluded vessels. This takes a little longer than expected so there is no time left to close the sternal incision. The surgeon is neither quick nor slow, but this is the only way that she can manage the expectation of performing six such procedures a day.

It sounds ludicrous and outrageous. Surely this would never happen? Imagine the fallout for any hospital that ran its surgical department this way.

Although for a surgeon surgery means operating, for a physician it means spending time with the awake patients, understanding their problems, and …

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