Hospitalists: How are they doing?

January 18, 2008

Hospitalists are becoming an increasingly familiar sight in facilities with 200 or more beds, but are they having a positive effect? Yes, say the authors of a new study.

Hospitalists are becoming an increasingly familiar sight in facilities with 200 or more beds, but are they having a positive effect? Yes, say the authors of a new study published in TheNew England Journal of Medicine, but their impact hasn't been as great as one might expect from this burgeoning specialty. For seven common inpatient diagnoses, hospitalist care showed small reductions in lengths of stay without compromising quality. However, it was found to be only a bit less expensive than care provided by general internists, and didn't save anything significant vs patients cared for by family physicians.

The study examined care provided to nearly 77,000 patients in 45 US hospitals, by 284 hospitalists, 993 general internists, and 971 family physicians. It focused on these principal diagnoses: pneumonia, heart failure, chest pain, ischemic stroke, urinary tract infection, acute myocardial infarction, and acute exacerbation of COPD.