Association of Hospitalist Years of Experience With Mortality in the Hospitalized Medicare Population

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ImportanceSubstantial numbers of hospitalists are fresh graduates of residency training programs. Current data about the effect of hospitalist years of experience on patient outcomes are lacking.ObjectiveTo describe the association of hospitalist years of experience with 30-day mortality and hospital mortality of their patients.Design, Setting, and ParticipantsWe used a 5% sample of national Medicare data of patient and hospital characteristics to build a multilevel logistic regression model to predict mortality as a function of years of experience of the hospitalists. We created 2 cohorts. The first was a cross-sectional cohort of 21 612 hospitalists working between July 1, 2013, and June 30, 2014, with a 5-year look-back period to assess their years of prior experience as a hospitalist, and the second was a longitudinal cohort of 3860 hospitalists in their first year of practice between July 1, 2008, and June 30, 2011, who continued practicing hospital medicine for at least 4 years.Main Outcomes and MeasuresThirty-day postadmission mortality adjusted for patient and hospital characteristics in a 3-level logistic regression model. Hospital mortality was a secondary outcome.ResultsAmong 21 612 hospitalists caring for Medicare inpatients from July 1, 2013, to June 30, 2014, 5445 (25%) had 1 year of experience or less, while 11 596 (54%) had 4 years of experience or more. We then identified 3860 physicians in their first year as hospitalists who continued to practice as hospitalists for 4 years. There was a significant association between hospitalist experience and mortality. Observed 30-day mortality was 10.50% for patients of first-year hospitalists vs 9.97% for patients of hospitalists in their second year. The mortality odds for patients of second-year hospitalists were 0.90 (95% CI, 0.84-0.96) compared with patients of first-year hospitalists. Observed hospital mortality was 3.33% for patients cared for by first-year hospitalists vs 2.96% for second-year hospitalists. (odds ratio, 0.84; 95% CI, 0.75-0.95). For both 30-day and hospital mortality, there was little change in odds of mortality between the second year and subsequent years of experience.Conclusions and RelevancePatients cared for by hospitalists in their first year of practice experience higher mortality. Early-career hospitalists may require additional support to ensure optimal outcomes for their patients.

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