COMMENTARY

Patients Prefer PCPs Over Hospitalists While in Hospital

Alok S. Patel, MD

Disclosures

April 12, 2018

Alok S. Patel, MD: Let's talk about primary care physicians (PCPs) visiting their patients in the hospital. Does this improve patient care or just complicate things? For me, it totally improves patient care.

I'm a hospitalist. I try to get to know my patients. Sometimes I only have them for a few days. There's not a lot of time for bonding. The PCPs know their patients on a very deep level. Why does this matter?

  • It matters because every hospitalist has had a patient with a lot of anxiety

  • They don't like their treatment plan

  • They don't like you

  • They have complicated discharge follow-up

  • You need an advocate

  • PCPs to the rescue

In a retrospective analysis of more than 560,000 Medicare patients, hospital care provided by a PCP was associated with a greater chance of being discharged home and a lower 30-day mortality rate.[1] Patients trust their PCPs. In tough situations, sometimes this really helps the treatment and diagnosis. I can't tell you how many times I've had a family tell me: "Let me call our primary care doc, and I'll get back to you."

This study proves what we already suspected. The question now is: What are we going to do about it? Hospitalists were literally created so that PCPs didn't have to round in the hospital. Are we going to ask them to leave their busy clinics and come see their patients, or is this just going to complicate things?

What are your thoughts? We want to hear them.

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