A patient requires a variety of services, all of which can be provided by a multidisciplinary management team. The job of this team is to collaborate on patient care from a variety of different specialties. In the case of Joe, a 65 year-old hospitalized male, his team includes a registered nurse, social worker, dietician, pharmacist, occupational therapist, and, of course, the primary physician. This will ensure that all of Joe’s needs are met. The primary physician will determine Joe’s medical needs and will communicate them to the other members of the team.
There are many different levels of nursing. A nurse may be a nurse’s assistant, licensed vocational nurse, or an RN. An RN is a registered nurse who has the largest share of responsibility for patient care and is generally the head of the multidisciplinary team. When the RN is first introduced to Joe, he or she will assess the patient with temperature and blood pressure before addressing his current needs, such as pain, dressing changes or medications.
The RN is responsible for starting an IV, checking and double-checking the medications that flow into the IV, and charting all of this information for the primary doctor. Joe will also have a social worker assigned to him. His or her job is to look after his non-medical well-being. For example, Joe might not have family to look after him when he is released from the hospital. If this is necessary for his release, the social worker will find a place for him to go, whether it is a convalescent home or a rehabilitation facility.
If Joe does have family, the social worker may interview the family members in order to determine the level of care and attention he will receive once he is released from the hospital and if the family members are capable of caring for him. In certain cases, the social worker might need to prepare a case for court in case the family wants to declare Joe incompetent. Above all, the social worker is Joe’s advocate and friend. Joe might be on a special diet while he is in the hospital, or might have to follow a specific diet when he is released.
The job of the dietitian is to create a diet that follows the doctor’s orders and to relay that information to the kitchen. By doing so, Joe’s meals will not only be tailored to his specific needs, but will allow the dietitian to determine the foods that Joe will and will not eat. In addition, the dietitian may counsel Joe about what he is supposed to eat and avoid once he is released. Also in charge of Joe’s peripheral care is his pharmacist.
When the doctor writes orders for medication, whether they are to be taken orally or delivered through an IV, the pharmacist will prepare the medication, check to ensure that the medication does not conflict with Joe’s allergies or any other medication that he’s taking, and send it to his hospital room. The pharmacist will label it with Joe’s name and the dosage instructions. He or she will also prepare any medications that are to be sent home. The final member of Joe’s multidisciplinary healthcare team is the occupational therapist.
When a patient lacks independence due to an inability to use hands, arms, legs or feet, the occupational therapist assists in recovering the use of these limbs. Joe’s primary physician will write an order, and based on that order, the therapist will write a detailed plan to help Joe recover. It may include range of motion and/or stretching exercises, splinting, assistance with wound care, or a home visit in order to determine what accommodations will have to be made in order for Joe to be independent at home. Working together, a multidisciplinary team can address all of a patient’s needs.