Effectiveness/Efficiency

It’s Time for a Buzz Cut

I sometimes joke that hospitalists are the medicine version of the mullet haircut – you know, all business in "the front" (i.e. the patient care area) and all party in "the back" (i.e. the work room). In "the back", the usual scenario is to complain and moan about our frequent flyers, our drug seekers, our many unsaveable patients, the incredible situations ("He put a nail where??), with good-natured but somewhat bitter truculence about sharing duties with housestaff and general whining about hospital leadership. Generally, as long as these semi-inappropriate conversations and remarks were kept "backstage", and our demeanor was professional "onstage", I felt it was harmless. You know, gallows humor. A coping mechanism. And often entertaining. But there was always a part of me that wondered if these "backstage" conversations were having a more corrosive impact on communication with our patients. Does it normalize a negative judgement about patients if…

How Often Do You Ask This (Ineffective) Question?

How often do we get complacent with knowledge?  We hear the same thing over and over, and the message becomes lore.  Drink eight ounces of water per day or turkey makes you drowsy—not only do we as docs believe it but we tell family members and patients the same. I came across a new study in CMAJ that fractures another piece of lore we hold fast. And not only should this study put the kibosh on it, but also upends a practice (a patient question) that teachers from eons past have instructed us to use over and over and over.  The question has intuitive appeal, is easy to gestalt, and has a universal understanding.  Non-physicians and laypeople can grasp what the answer implies without any difficulty.  (more…)

We Are Not Done Changing

Recently, the on-line version of JAMA published an original investigation entitled "Patient Mortality During Unannounced Accreditation Surveys at US Hospitals". The purpose of this investigation was to determine the effect of heightened vigilance during unannounced accreditation surveys on safety and quality of inpatient care. The authors found that there was a significant reduction in mortality in patients admitted during the week of surveys by The Joint Commission. The change was more significant in major teaching hospitals, where mortality fell from 6.41% to 5.93% during survey weeks, a 5.9% relative decrease. The positive effects of being monitored have been well documented in all kinds of arenas, such as hand washing and antibiotic stewardship. But mortality? This is an interesting outcome, especially considering a recent ordeal I went through with my dear sister-in-law. She was on vacation in a somewhat remote location and suffers from a chronic illness, which requires her to…

The Upside of Anger

Recently, I heard from a number of NP/PA providers in response to Dr. John Nelson’s editorial published in the January edition of The Hospitalist. In the editorial, Dr. Nelson refers to an article in the Journal of Clinical Outcomes. The single-site study compared routine versus expanded PA care in a community hospital, and the intervention group delivered a three percent reduction in costs with similar measures in quality. In discussing the results, Dr. Nelson concluded that this article showed that, with proper planning and infrastructure, care delivered primarily by PAs can go "OK". Many of you took offense at the lack of enthusiasm or support for the model studied and felt that it demonstrated poor understanding for the migration of roles for NP/PA providers in hospital medicine. So who is right? Was it merely one tiny study that showed “OK” results? Or was it an impactful article that demonstrates the…

Online Ratings For Hospital CEO, CFO’s, etc.

This week's NEJM features an article on hospital-sponsored online rating sites for docs.  The author, Vivian S. Lee, M.D., Ph.D., MBA, a prominent health services researcher discusses the adoption and success of her program at the University of Utah and how the system uses a portal open to patients to evaluate staff. In the piece, she covers familiar ground. Early renunciation and eventual acceptance by faculty in a manner you can predict: initial fears of reputation and prestige loss give way to a stable system allowing docs to obtain feedback in real time to improve their game.  It is not all wine and roses in her telling, but like all things, the apocalypse never materializes, and the once unthinkable becomes business as usual. Docs adjust.  Life moves on. Also in her viewpoint, she cites a recent study of interest that continues to get a lot of attention whenever inquiring minds consider provider ratings.…
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