Patient Care

Interdisciplinary Team Care on General Medical Units Does Not Improve Patient Outcomes


Clinical question: Does interdisciplinary care on general medical wards improve patient outcomes?

Background: Patients on general medical wards might experience errors and/or preventable deaths. One mechanism that could reduce the risk of errors or preventable death is the utilization of interdisciplinary team care.

Study design: Systematic review.

Setting: Studies published in English from 1998 through 2013 in Embase, MEDLINE, and PsycINFO.

Synopsis: Reports of interdisciplinary team care interventions on general medical wards in which the care was evaluated against an objective patient outcome were reviewed. Outcomes were grouped into early (less than 30 days) or late (30 days to 12 months). Thirty studies of more than 66,000 total patients were included; these were composed of RCTs, nonrandomized cluster trials, and controlled before-after studies.

Interventions either altered the composition of the care team or addressed the logistics of team practice. Studies evaluated complications of care, length of stay, readmissions, and mortality. Although some evidence showed interdisciplinary care reduces complications, the majority of studies did not show significant improvements in any other outcomes.

Bottom line: In a systematic review, interdisciplinary team care in general medical wards is not associated with reduced complications, length of stay, readmissions, or mortality.

Citation: Pannick S, Davis R, Ashrafian H, et al. Effects of interdisciplinary team care interventions on general medical wards: a systematic review. JAMA Intern Med. 2015;175(8):1288-1298.

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