A new model of patient care for mothers in labor is being utilized around the country. It is called the “Laborist Model.” Essentially, there are obstetricians who work in shifts and their only responsibility during that time is to care for pregnant women who are hospitalized. This physician, called the laborist, would supervise the labor and delivery of infants, as well as evaluate and treat pregnant patients with complications, such as premature labor. When his or her shift is over, the laborist goes home and has no other patient care responsibilities.
This is quite different from the current way most ob/gyn physicians work. On a typical work day an ob/gyn wakes up early, performs several hours of surgery, rounds on his or her hospitalized patients at one or more hospitals, sees office patients for six to eight hours, delivers one or two babies, takes phone calls all night from patients and nurses, gets an average of 6 hours of interrupted sleep, and often less if he or she has to go into the hospital overnight to do a delivery or emergent surgery. Then the physician starts a new day with the same busy schedule.
The laborist model allows a physician to work a 12 hour shift, then go home and not have any further work obligations until the next shift. This would mean you would never have a cesarean section or vaginal delivery performed by a physician who did not sleep the night before. You would never have your clinic appointment rescheduled because your physician was called out to do a delivery. Patient care may be safer as physicians may make fewer mistakes that could have been attributed to sleep deprivation.
However, this would also mean that you may not see the same physician for all your prenatal visits, and you most likely would not know the physician who delivered your baby. So, how important is it for you to have the same physician perform your prenatal care and be present for the delivery of your newborn? Would you seek prenatal care at an obstetrician’s office who practiced the laborist model?