Research

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…

A Need for Medicare Appeals Process Reform in Hospital Observation Care

by Ann Sheehy, MD, MS, FHM
By Ann M. Sheehy, MD, MS, FHM Concern has existed regarding Recovery Auditor enforcement of outpatient (observation) and inpatient status determinations. Scrutiny of the contingency fee-based Recovery Auditors, often called Recovery Audit Contractors (“RACs”), has prompted Congressional attention and Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) reforms. Although the impact of these changes is not fully known, there is bipartisan support for reform of the initial auditing step in the Medicare audit and appeals process. Congress and CMS must now turn their attention to reforming the 5-Level Medicare administrative appeals process that follows an initial audit and denial. Last year, the US Government Accountability Office (GAO) report Medicare Fee-for-Service: Opportunities Remain to Improve Appeals Process cited a 2000% increase in Level 3 inpatient appeals from 2010-2014. In response, CMS issued appeals reforms, including allowing senior attorneys to hear some Level 3 appeals and permitting the Medicare Appeals Council to set…
Ann Sheehy, MD, MS, FHM, is a physician and associate professor at the University of Wisconsin (UW) School of Medicine and Public Health. She received her MD and MS in Clinical Research from Mayo Medical School and Mayo Graduate School, respectively, in Rochester, Minnesota. She completed her residency in internal medicine at Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore, Maryland in 2005. The same year, Dr. Sheehy joined the Division of Hospital Medicine as a Clinical Assistant Professor of Medicine at the University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health. In 2011, she became a Clinical Associate Professor of Medicine. Dr. Sheehy held the position of Interim Director, prior to being appointed Division of Hospital Medicine Director in 2012. Dr. Sheehy has a background in academic medicine, with emphasis on diabetes screening practices and care of inpatients with hyperglycemia, as well as health care disparities and the effect of health care policy on patient care in the hospital. Dr. Sheehy is a member of the Society of Hospital Medicine Public Policy committee, and serves as Vice President of the University of Wisconsin Hospital and Clinics (UWHC) Medical Board and is chair of the Credentials Committee. Dr. Sheehy is a two-time recipient of the Evans-Glassroth Department of Medicine Inpatient Teacher of the Year Award and has also been awarded the University of Wisconsin Internal Medicine Residency Professionalism Award. Dr. Sheehy is an active SHM member in the Public Policy Committee and has found herself on Capitol Hill multiple times, testifying before Congressional committees focused on the U.S. healthcare system, on behalf of hospitalists and SHM.

A GIF Is Worth 3000 Words: Introducing #VisualAbstract for #JHMChat

by Charlie M. Wray, DO, MS
If you’re like most hospitalists, your day usually starts around dawn (or dusk, for our nocturnal colleagues). After arriving at the hospital and quickly receiving sign out on your patients, you down the last bit of coffee and rush off to spend a morning on the wards. As you’re getting into a rhythm, the charge nurse on 3C grabs you as you walk by and lets you know that Mr. Sanchez’s son arrived and would like an update. BEEP. BEEP. BEEP: “Mrs. Jones wants to know when she can eat.” Just as you head her way, the cardiology fellow sees you and wants to discuss the follow-up plan on Mr. Aldridge… By 3PM, you’ve grabbed a quick bite to eat, and you’re likely leading the Patient Safety Committee meeting (while still fielding intermittent pages, of course). By early evening, you’re placing a few last minute orders and putting out small…
Charlie M. Wray, DO, MS is an Assistant Professor of Medicine at the University of California, Francisco and the San Francisco VA Medical Center. He completed medical school at Western University – College of Osteopathic Medicine, residency at Loma Linda University Medical Center, and a Hospital Medicine Research Fellowship at The University of Chicago. Dr. Wray’s research interests are focused on inpatient care transitions, care fragmentation in the hospital setting, and overutilization of hospital resources. Additionally, he has strong interests in medical education, with specific focus in evidence-based medicine, the implementation of value-based care, and how learners negotiate medical uncertainty. Dr. Wray can often be found tweeting under @WrayCharles.

US Versus Foreign Trained Docs: Who Saves More Lives?

Yeah, I know the headline drew you in.  I sleuthed ya---but I have a reason. A study out in BMJ today, and its timing is uncanny given the immigration ban we are now experiencing. First, to declare my priors. I will take an IMG to work by my side any day of the week.  You need to be twice as smart, motivated, and industrious to make your way to American shores. The paper:   The researchers analyzed data on 1.2 million hospital admissions of Medicare patients aged 65 and over between 2011 and 2014 and for 44,227 internists. The average age of patients was 80, and the most common causes of death were sepsis, pneumonia, congestive heart failure, and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. The difference in results was slight, but I post the tables if only to show, at least based on this sample set, at worst, IMGs are equal to, and best,…

Do Clinicians Understand Quality Metric Data?

The number and complexity of quality metrics within healthcare continues to expand, many of which are used to compare performance between hospitals, systems, and/or clinicians. To make these comparisons fair, many quality reporting agencies attempt to “risk stratify” these metrics, so as not to penalize those caring for higher complexity patients. Although laudable, these attempts also increase the complexity of the data and may reduce the ability of clinicians to understand and analyze quality performance. A recent article in the Journal of Hospital Medicine explores clinicians’ understanding of quality metrics using central line associated bloodstream infections (CLABSIs) as an example. The investigators used a unique Twitter-based survey to explore clinicians’ interpretation of basic concepts in public-reported CLABSI rates and ratios. I recently caught up with the lead author, Dr. Sushant Govindan, to better understand his team’s research and its implications for quality reporting. Dr. Govindan is a Pulmonary-Critical Care fellow…
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