COMMENTARY

When the Doctor's Away, the Locum Tenens Comes Into Play

Alok S. Patel, MD

Disclosures

May 02, 2018

I swear, every time I see a locum tenens job offer, I get tempted by:

  • Great pay

  • Less hours

  • Awesome location

Earlier today, I saw a job offer near Lake Tahoe. Come on! I have considered the locum tenens job and I know that some of you have too.

Anyway, I'm talking to one of my colleagues about all of this stuff and she made a really interesting point. She was talking about jumping into a new hospital system and how it would affect our ability to take care of patients.

Then I asked myself, Would being a temporary doc make my life more difficult? Would I make more errors? Maybe not.

A study comparing care provided by locums docs versus regular hospital employees showed no significant difference in 30-day mortality.[1] Locums doctors did have higher Medicare B charges and longer in-patient stays but a lower 30-day readmission rate.

Locums doctors have similar outcomes as your run-of-the-mill hospitalists. They might be more cautious and order more tests, but whatever. I think going locum would be an awesome adventure, and this research makes me feel better about it.

What do you think? What is going to go through your mind the next time you see an email with a temp job, a fancy salary, and an opportunity to work in a pristine mountain town? Share your thoughts.

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