Objectives: To determine how frequently physicians identify and address overweight/obesity in hospitalized children and to compare physician documentation across training level (medical student, intern, resident, attending).
Study design: We conducted a retrospective chart review. Using an administrative database, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention body mass index calculator, and random sampling technique, we identified a study population of 300 children aged 2-18 years with overweight/obesity hospitalized on the general medical service of a tertiary care pediatric hospital. We reviewed admission, progress, and discharge notes to determine how frequently physicians and physician trainees identified (documented in history, physical exam, or assessment) and addressed (documented in hospital or discharge plan) overweight/obesity.
Results: Physicians and physician trainees identified overweight/obesity in 8.3% (n = 25) and addressed it in 4% (n = 12) of 300 hospitalized children with overweight/obesity. Interns were most likely to document overweight/obesity in history (8.3% of the 266 patients they followed). Attendings were most likely to document overweight/obesity in physical examination (8.3%), assessment (4%), and plan (4%) of the 300 patients they followed. Medical students were least likely to document overweight/obesity including it in the assessment (0.4%) and plan (0.4%) of the 244 hospitalized children with overweight/obesity they followed.
Conclusions: Physicians and physician trainees rarely identify or address overweight/obesity in hospitalized children. This represents a missed opportunity for both patient care and physician trainee education.
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