Academic medical centers train 'proceduralists'

Doctors don't like to dwell on the idea but, often, they don't have as much training as they should when it comes to performing specialized procedures. Increasingly, teaching hospitals are acknowledging this fact and developing special "procedure" tracks for residents and physicians to make sure things get done by experts. These proceduralist physicians specialize in performing tricky, potentially dangerous procedures such as spinal taps, central-line insertions and fluid removal from the chest wall and abdominal cavity.

For example, Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles launched a dedicated Procedure Center 10 years ago. The Center, which performs more than 2,000 procedures annually, is staffed by four physicians, a nurse practitioner and 14 nurses. Administrators say having proceduralist physicians has lowered procedure complication rates substantially, down to less than 1 percent, as compared with 2-5 percent nationwide. Similar services have emerged at other academic institutions, including Boston's Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center and the University of Chicago.

To find out more about this trend:
- read this article from The Wall Street Journal