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AHRQ Study: Adverse Events and Patient Outcomes Among Hospitalized Children Cared for by General Pediatricians vs Hospitalists

The number of hospitalists—physicians practicing exclusively in acute care settings—continues to grow. However, whether patient outcomes differ between hospitalists and general physicians remains unclear. This study examined medical record data from a single urban academic children’s hospital to compare patient outcomes between general pediatricians and hospitalists. After adjustment for patient characteristics (e.g., age and number of chronic conditions) and for physician characteristics (e.g., number of years in practice), the investigators did not find differences in readmission rates, total costs, or lengths of stay. The hospitalists’ patients had a greater risk for device-related adverse events, which was explained by differences in physician experience. The authors conclude that the safety of care delivered by general versus hospitalist pediatricians is similar. A related editorial predicts that the hospitalist model of pediatric acute care will continue to grow.

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