Objective: To examine the effects of internal medicine specialty and physician experience on inpatient resource use and clinical outcomes on an academic general medicine service.
Design: A 1-year retrospective cohort study.
Setting: The University of Michigan Hospitals, Ann Arbor, Michigan.
Patients: Two thousand six hundred seventeen admissions to the general medicine service from July 2001 to June 2002, excluding those for whom data were incomplete (n = 18).
Measurements and main results: Length of stay (LOS) and total hospital costs were used to measure resource utilization. Hospital mortality and 14-day and 30-day readmission rates were used to measure clinical outcomes. Adjusted mean LOS was significantly greater for rheumatologists (0.56 days greater; P =.002) and endocrinologists (0.38 days greater; P =.03) compared to general internists. Total costs were lower for general internists compared to endocrinologists ($1100 lower; P =.01) and rheumatologists ($431 lower; P =.07). Hospitalists showed a trend toward reduced LOS compared to all other physicians (0.31 days lower; P =.06). The top two deciles of physicians stratified by recent inpatient general medical experience showed significantly reduced LOS compared to all other physicians (0.35 days lower; P =.04). No significant differences were seen in readmission rates or in-hospital mortality among the various physician groups.
Conclusions: General internists had lower lengths of stay and costs compared to endocrinologists and rheumatologists. Hospitalists showed a trend toward reduced LOS compared to all other physicians. Recent inpatient general medicine experience appears to be a determinant of reduced inpatient resource use.