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How Hospitalists Contribute to Improved Patient Safety

Hospital MedicineIt is no coincidence that the rise of hospitalists in the United States coincided with a major push to improve patient safety at hospitals, a push that began in the late 1990s and continues to this day. As recently as 1999, an estimated 98,000 deaths were attributed to medical errors each year, according to an Institute of Medicine report, “To Err is Human.”

In 2006, Institute for Healthcare Improvement President Don Berwick credited hospitalists, in part, with helping to spearhead a successful program called the 100,000 Lives Campaign. Over the targeted time period of 18 months, an estimated 122,000 lives were saved by the program, which focused on altering the culture of hospitals in an effort to improve safety and the quality of care. The increased emphasis on patient safety that came about after the publication of “To Err is Human,” coupled with the success of the 100,000 Lives Program, opened the eyes of hospital administrators to the value of employing full-time hospitalists.

Hospitalists can contribute to improved patient safety and overall care by helping the hospital meet the Joint Commission’s National Safety Patient Goals. As full-time hospital employees whose focus is strictly on the patients at the hospital − as opposed to a private practice elsewhere − hospitalists can:

  • Facilitate proper patient identification
  • Improve staff communication
  • Reconcile medication
  • Identify proper and safe use of alarms
  • Guard against infection
  • Identify patient safety risks before they become a problem
  • Prevent mistakes in surgery

The American Board of Physician Specialties (ABPS) believes that the demand for hospitalist board certification will continue to accelerate in the coming years. Since the mid-1990s, the number of practicing hospitalists has grown from less than 1,000 to more than 16,000. That rapid growth in interest in the specialty means that the need for hospitalist certification has also increased. To help meet that need, the ABPS developed the nation’s only comprehensive and dedicated board of certification for hospital medicine governed by hospitalists, the American Board of Hospital Medicine (ABHM). This is not merely a subspecialty of internal medicine. Hospitalist board certification through the ABHM carries all the standing and prestige of a distinct and vital medical specialty.

To learn more about board certification in Hospital Medicine, contact the ABPS today. The ABPS is the official multi-specialty certifying body of the American Association of Physician Specialists, Inc.