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Health Care Market Trends and the Evolution of Hospitalist Use and Roles
Mounting financial pressures, increasing problems with patient flow in hospitals, a growing focus on patient safety, and rising malpractice costs have spurred the use of a new breed of physicians who specialize in caring for hospitalized patients. Known as hospitalists, the number of physicians specializing in hospital medicine has increased from a few hundred in the mid-1990s to more than 8,000 in 2003, according to information in the HSC study provided by the Society for Hospital Medicine, the professional society of hospitalists.
Hospitalists most commonly care for patients whose physicians prefer not to
provide inpatient care or who lack admitting privileges. However, hospitalists
clinical roles are expanding, for example, as they increasingly substitute for
intensivists in intensive care units (ICUs), team with subspecialists to care
for complicated patients, function as primary attending physicians in skilled-nursing
facilities and care for nursing home patients hospitalized at night.
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