Home From The Editor The other "voltage drop"

The other "voltage drop"

October 2012

Published in the October 2012 issue of Today’s Hospitalist

For years, hospitalists have been beaten up over the lousy job they do getting patient information to primary care physicians after discharge. But new research shows that hospitalists aren’t the only ones forgetting to pass along key patient information.

As our coverage in this month’s issue points out, primary care physicians often neglect to send critical information that hospitalists need to care for their patients in the hospital. A researcher from Penn State Hershey Medical Center found that when she asked outpatient physicians for information on their admitted patients, those physicians often came up short. Almost half flat out ignored her request, and many who did respond left out essential information.

While most of the attention on transitions of care has focused on discharge, it turns out that the “voltage drop” at admission is just as problematic. And while it may feel good to put the spotlight on outpatient doctors for a change, it doesn’t mean that hospitalists are off the hook for getting the right information quickly to primary care physicians. Two people both dropping the ball, after all, don’t make a right.

The reality, however, is that if primary care physicians aren’t willing to give hospitalists accurate patient information at admission, some information may be missing or wrong all the way through the hospitalization “and then passed along at discharge.

While that could create real problems for patients, it also means trouble for hospitals. Changes in reimbursement will punish hospitals that don’t have all the information they need. If you don’t know that a patient has a condition like a UTI present on admission, for example, you “and your hospital “won’t be paid for treating it.

Your patients “and your hospital “need everyone to do a better job.

edoyleEdward Doyle
Editor & Publisher