Hospitals' Primary Care Docs Boost Outcomes

Patients cared for by these generalists were discharged sooner, study found

TUESDAY, Sept. 25, 2007 (HealthDay News) -- Being cared for by hospital-based general physicians -- also known as "hospitalists" -- can shorten patients' hospital stays, a U.S. study finds.

The study looked at more than 9,000 patients discharged from an academic medical center between July 2002 and June 2004.

The 2,913 patients cared for by hospitalists had an average hospital stay of just over 5 days, compared to nearly 6 days for the 6,124 patients cared for by non-hospitalists, reported researchers at Montefiore Medical Center in New York City.

"Hospitalist care had the strongest association with length of stay in patients with specific diagnoses, including cerebrovascular accidents (strokes), congestive heart failure, pneumonia, sepsis, urinary tract infections and asthma/chronic obstructive pulmonary disease," the researchers wrote. "The close monitoring and continuous presence offered by hospitalists may allow for earlier discharge, because hospitalists are more likely to detect clinical improvement in real time and to make appropriate adjustments in treatment regimens."

The researchers also found that hospitalist care was more strongly associated with shorter hospital stays in patients with complex discharge planning needs, such as rehabilitation, home health services, or transfer to a nursing facility.

The study was published in the Sept. 24 issue of the journal Archives of Internal Medicine.

More information

The American College of Physicians has more about hospitalists.

SOURCE: JAMA/Archives journals, news release, Sept. 24, 2007
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