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Med Care. 1996 May;34(5):455-62.

The impact of practicing in multiple hospitals on physician profiles.

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Urban Institute, Washington, DC, USA.


Although physicians are all too familiar with the psychologic impact of having multiple responsibilities, the associated impact on practice styles has not been examined systematically. To provide some data on the effects of "work dispersion," we examined the hypothesis that the inpatient resource use of physicians would rise with the number of hospitals in which they work. Data for 1991 from Medicare's National Claims History File were used to profile a sample of attending physicians (n = 33,756) in seven states. The attending physician "profile" was the case mix-adjusted relative value of all physician services (regardless of who delivered them) that were delivered during each patient's hospital stay. Relative value was measured in relative value units, used by Medicare in determining physician payments. The authors then categorized physicians in terms of the number of hospitals to which they admitted patients. Physician profiles were adjusted further to control for geography, physician specialty, and characteristics of the physician's primary (ie, most used) hospital. One third of the physicians in the sample had admissions to more than one hospital. Physicians working in one hospital had inpatient practice profiles 2.1% below the sample mean. Additional hospital affiliations were associated with progressively higher profiles: two hospitals, 2.3% above the mean; three hospitals, 4.5% above; four hospitals, 8.2% above; and five or more hospitals, 11.5% above (all P < 0.01). The practice of medicine in more than one hospital is associated with higher inpatient profiles and shows a dose-response relationship. Physicians and policy makers will need to consider carefully whether there are any associated benefits to justify the increased cost.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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