Patient Care

Effects of Assigning Medical Teams to Nursing Units on Patient Care


Clinical question: Does assigning a single medical team to a nursing unit (regionalizing) improve communication and prevent adverse events?

Background: Many factors impact communication in healthcare delivery. Failures in communication are a known source of adverse events in hospital care. Previous studies of the impact of regionalized care (assigning medical physician teams to nursing units) on communication and outcomes have had mixed results.

Study design: Pre-post intervention cohort analysis.

Setting: Brigham and Women’s Hospital, Boston.

Synopsis: Three medical teams were assigned to 15-bed nursing units with structured multidisciplinary meeting times for one year. Assessments of concordance of care plan and adverse event detection (with a focus on adverse drug events and poor glycemic control) were performed before and after this assignment. Regionalization of care in the study site improved recognition of care team members (0.56 versus 0.86; P<0.001), discussion of care plan (0.73 versus 0.88; P<0.001), and agreement on estimated discharge date (0.56 versus 0.68; P<0.003). However, it did not significantly improve nurse and physician concordance of the plan or reduce the odds of preventable adverse events.

This study may not have captured an impact on more subtle adverse events or other aspects of interprofessional relationships that enhance patient care.

Bottom line: Regionalization effectively promotes communication but may not lead to patient safety improvements.

Citation: Mueller SK, Schnipper JL, Giannelli K, Roy CL, Boxer R. Impact of regionalized care on concordance of plan and preventable adverse events on general medicine services [published online ahead of print February 24, 2016]. J Hosp Med. doi:10.1002/jhm.2566.

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