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Am J Med. 2001 Dec 21;111(9B):48-52.

Ethical and policy implications of hospitalist systems.

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  • 1Program in Medical Ethics, the Division of General Internal Medicine, University of California, San Francisco, USA.


Hospitalist systems raise ethical and policy concerns regarding informing patients about the hospitalist system itself, communication between primary care physicians and hospitalists, continuity of care, and conflicts of interest. Patients may worry that hospitalist systems are intended to achieve cost savings and that the role of the primary care physician as coordinator of care may be undermined. These concerns may be particularly salient for certain subgroups of patients. Hospitalists and health-care organizations that set up hospitalist systems should take steps to reduce the foreseeable risks that discontinuity of care might cause. Practice standards should be set for communication between primary care physicians and hospitalists and for involvement of primary physicians in inpatient care under certain circumstances. By setting such standards and monitoring performance, hospitalist systems can improve the quality of care and reassure patients.

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