J Patient Saf. 2023 Oct 1;19(7):447-452. doi: 10.1097/PTS.0000000000001157.
OBJECTIVES: Hospitalized patients are at risk for diagnostic errors. Hospitalists caring for these patients are often multitasking when overseeing patient care. We aimed to measure hospitalist workload and understand its influences on diagnostic performance in a real-world clinical setting.
METHODS: We conducted a single-center, prospective, pilot observational study of hospitalists admitting new patients to the hospital. Hospitalists completed an abridged Mindful Attention Awareness Tool and a survey about diagnostic confidence at shift completion. Data on differential diagnoses and resource utilization (e.g., laboratory, imaging tests ordered, and consultations) were collected from the medical record. The number of admissions and paging volume per shift were used as separate proxies for shift busyness. Data were analyzed using linear mixed effects models (continuous outcomes) or mixed effects logistic regression (dichotomous outcomes).
RESULTS: Of the 53 hospitalists approached, 47 (89%) agreed to participate; complete data were available for 37 unique hospitalists who admitted 160 unique patients. Increases in admissions (odds ratio, 1.99; 95% confidence interval [CI], 1.04 to 3.82; P = 0.04) and pages (odds ratio, 1.11; 95% CI, 1.02 to 1.21; P = 0.01) were associated with increased odds of hospitalists finding it "difficult to focus on what is happening in the present." Increased pages was associated with a decrease in the number of listed differential diagnoses (coefficient, -0.02; 95% CI, -0.04 to -0.003; P = 0.02).
CONCLUSIONS: Evaluation of hospitalist busyness and its associations with factors that may influence diagnosis in a real-world environment was feasible and demonstrated important implications on physician focus and differential diagnosis.