When you or a family member needs major surgery (whether it’s a planned procedure or as a result of a traumatic event like a car crash), you want the most highly trained surgeon available. In the Chattanooga region, University Surgical Associates and Erlanger provide those individuals.
“Surgical critical care specialists, aka acute care surgeons, offer the highest level of expertise and care for very sick patients who need surgery and then need to spend time in ICU,” says Robert Maxwell, M.D., acute care surgeon with University Surgical. “Acute care surgeons perform advanced procedures and take care of you until you’re well enough to be released from the hospital.”
Examples include bowel perforation, complicated hernias, pancreatitis or internal damage occurring from a major traffic accident. After these kinds of major medical conditions, patients routinely need ICU care for shock, fluid build-up, anemia, or respiratory failure. Acute care surgeons have specialty training that includes the latest nonoperative management techniques that may avoid large invasive surgeries, but when the time comes, these physicians know what to do in the ICU or operating room.
Highly Trained and Teaching Others
Dr. Maxwell was responsible for developing the surgical critical fellowship training program that began at Erlanger in 2004. It was the first and only program of its kind in the region. The program was started when surgical residents became interested in careers that involved caring for very sick patients in the ICU. Six surgeons at University Surgical Associates are fellowship trained in surgical critical care and take “in-house-call.” These faculty train one or two residents a year in this specialty, most of which go on to teach at academic medical centers around the country.
What does that mean for you?
“The fellowship program adds to the quality of patient care, and it means a seasoned surgeon is always available at the bedside to provide oversight and additional consultation,” says Dr. Maxwell. “It also means team members stay up to date on certification requirements and are at the forefront of cutting edge medicine found only at academic medical centers.”