Letter from the Editor

This issue takes a look forward at the hospital of the future.

According to experts, hospital medicine in the future will involve sharing hallways with robots, retrieving computers from bacteria-killing coat pockets, and stifling mild paranoia about someone (or something) watching your every move. This may sound like an Orwellian nightmare to some, but others say the opportunity afforded by advanced technological developments to improve patient care and safety outweighs the downsides. And, as our cover story illustrates, not all of the developments involve fancy gadgets; some are as simple as designing patient rooms with more sunlight.

Our theme issue on the future of hospital medicine would be incomplete without addressing the burgeoning area of computer-aided medical diagnosis; see where this promising field is headed. Charlotte Huff illustrates how tablet computers may be poised to change the experience of patient rounding—once the kinks have been worked out. And readers leery of change may be comforted to know that one element of practicing medicine will stay the same: the wearing of the white lab coat. Although, in the future, that coat may have bacteria-vanquishing properties, as our report explains.

Amid our focus on the future, Jamie Newman, FACP, reminds us not to forget about the past in his essay, which examines a critical point in the evolution of hygienic medical practices. And Kimberly Manning, FACP, a regular contributor to ACP Hospitalist's blog, dips into her personal past to show why some restrictions on resident duty hours are a positive development in medical training.

Our clinical focus this month is on wound prevention and care; turn to our Success Story to learn how one hospital's medicine and radiology departments joined forces to reduce pressure ulcers. Coding expert Richard Pinson, FACP, addresses documentation and coding for pressure ulcers, and answers a reader's question about arterial line insertion. Finally, our MKSAP quiz this month is all about wounds.

Think you know what the future holds for hospital medicine, or have a story from your past you'd like to share? Tell us about it.

Jessica Berthold
Editor, ACP Hospitalist