Kans J Med. 2021 Aug 4;14:192-196. doi: 10.17161/kjm.vol1415170. eCollection 2021.
INTRODUCTION: Few studies have quantified the total number of attending and consulting physicians involved in inpatients' care, and no other research quantifies the total number of all providers participating in inpatients' care. The purpose of this study was to calculate the number of attending hand-offs, the attending encounter time, and the total number of providers participating in inpatients' care for all admitted patients at a tertiary urban medical center.
METHODS: The study design was an observational retrospective cohort. Subjects included pediatric and adult patients who were admitted to and discharged from Ascension Via Christi St. Francis (AVCSF) in Wichita, Kansas between November 1, 2019 and January 31, 2020. Data were abstracted from the Cerner Electronic Medical Record. Variables included: patient demographics, admitting diagnosis, diagnosis related group (DRG), admission service, and duration of inpatient stay. Provider variables abstracted included provider type and provider specialty. Categorical variables were presented as frequencies and percentages, while continuous variables were presented as means ± standard deviation.
RESULTS: The sample included information from 200 patient charts. Patients' ages ranged from 5 to 94 years, with a mean of 61 years. Approximately 52% were female and 74.9% were admitted to a surgical service. The length of all inpatients' stays ranged from less than 1 day to 31 days, with a mean of 4 days. Seventy-six different DRGs were recorded. The most frequent attending specialties were hospital medicine, internal medicine, general surgery, and interventional cardiology. Consulting physicians had more patient encounters than any other healthcare provider. For all inpatients, an average of two attending physicians participated in care over the duration of their stay with a range of one to six attending physicians. There was an average of one hand-off between attending physicians. Patients had an average of five consulting physicians, two resident physicians, two physician assistants, and two nurse practitioners during a stay. There was an average of 10 total providers, with a range of one to 46 total providers participating in care.
CONCLUSIONS: Understanding the provider data surrounding an inpatient stay is a foundational step in assessing the quality of the provider-inpatient encounter and potential areas for improvement. In this study, the average number of attending physicians and handoffs was reasonable; however, the total number of providers involved in care was relatively high. Assessment of staffing and scheduling requirements by hospital administration could identify areas of improvement to reduce the potential for medical error caused by multiple providers being involved in patient care.