Several young medical students (or residents) examined a child in his hospital bed. They were not convinced that the initial diagnosis of stomach virus – based on his vomiting – was correct, and further testing proved them right. The child had a brain tumor.
In another instance, a child’s fever and rash on his palms led a resident to suspect syphilis.
“That’s certainly not what we were thinking at first,” says Alan J. Meltzer, MD, director of the division of general pediatrics for Goryeb Children’s Hospital in Morristown. “Those symptoms also point to a viral infection. But the resident was right.”
In both situations, residents asked the right questions, and the children got a quicker diagnosis and quicker treatment.
“Questioning assumptions is incredibly valuable – to our patients, their families and other physicians,” Dr. Meltzer says. “With residents being part of a child’s team, we get many different viewpoints and much more robust decision making.”
Though residents do not have as much experience as other physicians, they bring the very latest in medical training. They also have many layers of specialists backing them up.
Further, with three dozen pediatric residents on the staff every year, children at Goryeb always have someone with special training nearby.
“One of our priorities at Goryeb is selecting residents based on how well they listen to and interact with both the patient and the family,” Dr. Meltzer says. The Berg family appreciates this aspect, too.
“Attending physicians can’t be there all the time,” says Theresa Berg of Mount Olive Township, NJ. Her son, Collin, a high school junior and aspiring sportscaster, has spent many days over the past three or four years at Goryeb due a variety of high-risk medical conditions, including acute lymphoblastic leukemia (cancer of the blood). “It’s been comforting to know that there’s someone I can reach out to at any time of day or night, and that they have direct access to the attending and all the other specialists at Goryeb.”
For more information, visit atlantichealth.org/goryeb.