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Am J Manag Care. 2001 Dec;7(12):1142-8.

A pneumonia practice guideline and a hospitalist-based reorganization lead to equivalent efficiency gains.

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Department of Medicine, University of California San Francisco Medical Center, USA.



To compare the impact of a practice guideline for a common inpatient disorder with that of a hospitalist-based reorganization of an academic medical service.


Retrospective cohort study.


In July 1995 we introduced a clinical practice guideline for the treatment of community-acquired pneumonia at University of California San Francisco Moffitt-Long Hospital. Simultaneously, we implemented a structural change for half of the inpatient medical service, requiring earlier and more intensive faculty intervention, primarily by hospitalists. For 1 year, we studied the effect of these interventions on hospital costs, length of stay, and resource use.


As reported previously, the hospitalist-based intervention resulted in significant decreases in average adjusted cost ($7777 vs $7007, P = .05) and length of stay (4.9 days vs 4.3 days, P = .01) compared with both concurrent and historical controls. For patients with community-acquired pneumonia, a similar savings occurred when fiscal year 1996 was compared with fiscal year 1995 ($8164 vs $6282, P= .015; 5.0 vs 4.2 days, P= .04). However, the effect was identical for the hospitalist and nonhospitalist groups. The reduced length of stay was associated with a borderline significant reduction in readmission rates (from 4.8% to 0.7%, P = .055) and no change in mortality rates.


In this study, a hospitalist-based reorganization improved efficiency, with its greatest impact on the care of patients with disorders not covered by a practice guideline. The introduction of a guideline for a common diagnosis improved efficiency on both hospitalist- and nonhospitalist-based services. For common diagnoses amenable to practice guidelines, successful implementation of and compliance with guidelines may be an alternative to major organizational change.

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