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30-Day Mortality No Different for Treatment by Locum Tenens

Findings among hospitalized Medicare beneficiaries treated by general internal medicine doctors

hospital bed

TUESDAY, Dec. 5, 2017 (HealthDay News) -- Overall 30-day mortality does not differ for patients treated by locum tenens and non-locum tenens internal medicine physicians, according to a study published in the Dec. 5 issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association.

Daniel M. Blumenthal, M.D., M.B.A., from Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston, and colleagues compared quality and costs of hospital care delivered by locum tenens and non-locum tenens internal medicine physicians in a random sample of Medicare fee-for-service beneficiaries hospitalized during 2009 to 2014. Overall, 2.1 percent of 1,818,873 Medicare admissions treated by general internists received care from a locum tenens physician; at some point, 9.3 percent of 44,520 general internists were temporarily covered by a locum tenens physician.

The researchers observed no significant difference in 30-day mortality for treatment by locum tenens physicians compared with treatment by non-locum tenens physicians (8.83 versus 8.70 percent). Treatment by locum tenens physicians correlated with significantly higher Part B spending ($1,836 versus $1,712), significantly longer mean length of stay (5.46 versus 5.21 days), and significantly lower 30-day readmissions (22.80 versus 23.83 percent).

"Additional research may help determine hospital-level factors associated with the quality and costs of care related to locum tenens physicians," the authors write.

Two authors disclosed financial ties to the pharmaceutical industry.

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