How Hospitalists Can Lessen Risks and Promote Patient Safety

Advisory Board Focuses on Ways Hospitalists Can Improve Quality of Healthcare

Napa, California—March 25, 2014—How to lessen the higher risks faced by hospitalists compared to other specialties and promote patient safety were key topics at the recent Hospitalist Advisory Board meeting hosted by The Doctors Company, the nation’s largest physician-owned medical malpractice insurer.

The annual meeting brings together top practitioners from around the country to meet with patient safety, claims, and underwriting leaders from The Doctors Company to analyze emerging trends and discuss key issues specific to hospitalists.

Hospitalists face more malpractice claims than office-based internal medicine physicians, and these claims tend to involve more severe injuries than claims against internal medicine physicians, according to a study by The Doctors Company presented at the meeting.

“The differences in the frequency of malpractice suits and the severity of injuries between hospitalists and internists can be attributed to the type of patients seen by these two specialties,” said David B. Troxel, MD, medical director, The Doctors Company. “Hospitalists work with hospital inpatients, who often are treated for injuries and illnesses of high severity. Internists treat patients primarily in an office setting, and these outpatients tend to have injuries and illnesses that are less severe.”

The study results prompted a discussion among the experts at the meeting about ways hospitalists can lessen risks and improve quality of care. Among the suggestions offered by these top practitioners were:

  • Ensure that effective handoffs take place, particularly when a patient is discharged from the hospital, by actively communicating with all physicians involved in the patient’s care.
  • Engage in patient safety and quality initiatives.
  • Understand the hospital’s electronic health record protocols and policies.
  • Seek professional growth and engagement, particularly by following the Society of Hospital Medicine’s (SHM’s) core competencies for hospital medicine.

The identification of core competencies for this fast-growing field was another key topic addressed at the advisory board meeting. Larry Wellikson, MD, SFHM, CEO of SHM, and John Nelson, MHM, partner with Nelson Flores Hospital Medicine Consultants, introduced “Key Principles and Characteristics of an Effective Hospital Medicine Group,” which SHM recently published in the Journal of Hospital Medicine and will present at its annual meeting this week in Las Vegas.

“These key principles and characteristics showcase the value of hospitalists, inspire excellence in hospital medicine, and guide us to improve the quality of healthcare we provide to our patients,” Dr. Wellikson said. “Our approach for what makes an effective hospital medicine group is compatible with The Doctors Company’s data on how hospitalists can promote patient safety.”

About The Doctors Company
Founded by doctors for doctors in 1976, The Doctors Company ( is relentlessly committed to advancing, protecting, and rewarding the practice of good medicine. The Doctors Company is the nation’s largest physician-owned medical malpractice insurer, with 74,000 members and $4 billion in assets, and is rated A by A.M. Best Company and Fitch Ratings.

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