When you are in the hospital, you may hear about something called “rounds.” The term rounds, in general, means the process of members of your healthcare team paying you a visit or discussing your case.
A doctor will make rounds to check your medical chart (these days the doctor might have your chart on a tablet computer), looking carefully at each section to find any new entries. These items might include consults and orders from other doctors in your healthcare team, flowcharts, progress notes, and test results. This visit often happens early in the morning, and sometimes also in the afternoon.
The doctor might perform a brief physical exam and ask if you have questions about your care. The doctor may talk to you about his or her plan for your recovery, such as short-term goals you can strive to reach. The doctor may talk to you about how to reach those goals, such as taking your medication, exercising, and eating better if you have heart problems.
The doctor will write progress notes on your medical chart, including updating your progress plan or ordering more tests, if necessary. The doctor will also plan your care for the rest of the day. This may include reviewing your test results with your healthcare team, talking to consultants about your care, and performing any procedures you might need.
The doctor will continue to keep you and your family up to date at some point during the day and update your progress notes, if necessary, at the end of the day. The doctor, meanwhile, will plan your care for the next day. If you are better and can go home, the doctor will write discharge notes for the next day. If you need to stay in the hospital, the doctor, or another member of your healthcare team, may get your consent for any procedures or tests you might need.
Other members of your healthcare team who make rounds may include nurses, nutritionists, physician assistants, social workers, psychologists, physical therapists, or clergy.
At teaching hospitals, medicals students, interns, and residents will follow the doctor around from bed to bed as each case is reviewed and discussed. The students and residents may see you again throughout the day.
Rounds may include talking to you about bad news, such as a cancer procedure that did not remove all of a tumor.
For terminally ill patients, rounds may include discussing end-of-life palliative care or hospice care. This may happen when the goal of “getting better” can no longer be the focus of a patient’s care.
February 19, 2015
Christopher Nystuen, MD, MBA