Hospitalists, or in-house physicians, can cause significant injury and harm to patients under their care. Recent research indicates that the severity of injuries they cause is greater than those caused by other physician specialties. Over the past decade, many hospitals have hired hospitalists in an effort to improve treatment quality. However, this is not happening and patients are at significant risk of injury or death caused by individuals who may not have the training and experience to provide the care they require.
Research into the Problem
The Doctors Company studied 464 claims recorded against hospitalists between 2007 and 2014. Of these, 72% of claims filed against hospitalists were identified as “highly severe.” By comparison, only 34% of claims made against physicians fell into that same category. When a patient suffers severe injury at the hands of a hospitalist, Chicago medical malpractice lawyers can pursue medical malpractice claims against the hospital, the physician, and members of the care team responsible for causing the injury.
Nationwide, there are approximately 50,000 hospitalists. These individuals are employed within 75% of American hospitals. Approximately 90% specialize in internal medicine. These physicians work as cardiologists, pediatricians, oncologists, and within many other specialties. Alarmingly, most hospitalists within US hospitals do not have board certification in hospital medicine. This means that many operate without the required training in consultative medicine, quality improvement, palliative care, and other types of services that clients depend upon.
The report presented by The Doctors Company couched the report’s findings behind a pithy defense. The report argues that the level of care and treatment requirements needed to treat hospital patients was greater than those of those treated within outpatient care facilities, clinics, etc. The report also argues that hospitalists have limited access to a patient’s full health record and health history. According to the authors of the report, the risk of serious harm was greater because of these factors.
While it is true that those treated within hospitals do tend to require greater care, and that hospitalists do not always have a patient’s full health history, that does not absolve hospitalists from their duty to provide each and every patient with the care they require. It does not absolve these hospitalists from errors or omissions, nor does it protect them from their negligent actions that result in serious harm or injury to patients.