The emergence of the physician assistant role in a Canadian acute care surgery setting
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BACKGROUND: The role of physician assistants (PAs) in surgical care in Canada is expanding. Similarly, the acute care surgery (ACS) model continues to evolve, and PAs are increasingly being considered as members of ACS teams. However, their exact impact and contribution has not been well studied. Our study describes the contribution of a PA who worked full time on weekdays on an ACS team in a Canadian academic tertiary hospital. METHODS: To quantify the PA's contributions, an ACS database was created in September 2016. Data on the number of ACS patient encounters, the number of ACS surgical consults, the number of ACS admissions, the PA's involvement in the operating room, the number of PA patient encounters and the number of multidisciplinary meetings were prospectively collected. We report data for 365 consecutive days from Dec. 30, 2016, to Dec. 29, 2017. RESULTS: The ACS team had 11 651 patient encounters during the year, with a mean of 31.92 per day. The mean number of surgical consults per day was 5.89, and a mean of 2.08 surgical procedures were performed per day. The PA was involved in 53.5% of all patient encounters, despite working only during daytime hours on weekdays. Multidisciplinary meetings were conducted by the PA 94.9% of the time. Alternate level of care patients were seen by the PA 96.2% of the time. The PA was directly involved in 2.0% of the operating room procedures during the study period. CONCLUSION: Integrating a PA on an ACS team adds value to patient care by providing consistency and efficient management of ward issues and patient care plans, including multidisciplinary discharge planning, timely emergency department consultations and effective organization of the ACS team members.
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