Receiving care at an academic medical center with a hospitalist program may result in a shorter length of stay for patients requiring complex discharge planning and close monitoring, such as those with congestive heart failure, stroke, asthma or pneumonia, according to a report in the Sept. 24 issue of Archives of Internal Medicine.
Researchers at New York's Montefiore Medical Center looked at data collected between July 1, 2002, and June 30, 2004, and compared the records of 2,913 patients treated at teaching facilities with hospitalist programs with 6,124 patients treated at institutions without hospitalist programs. They found the average length of stay for patients cared for by hospitalists was 5.01 days compared with 5.87 days for those who were not. Researchers also reported that there were no significant differences in re-admission, in-hospital mortality, or 30-day mortality rates between the two groups.
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 authors wrote.
Although the authors introduced their report with a comment on how economic pressures led to the employment of hospitalist programs, they offered no statistics on the economic impact of the shorter lengths of stay found for hospitalist programs. -- by Andis Robeznieks
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