The impact on quality of care has been harder to assess. But Dr. Johnson and other observers say they haven’t seen any dip within hospitals. “I think that we as physicians and we as hospitalists really want to focus on our patients, and we can help to drive down those costs if we’re given the freedom to do our job,” he says. Tort reform, he adds, has helped doctors do precisely that.
Dr. Calhoun agrees. “No one wants to be sued. Everyone wants to do a good job,” he says. The threat of a lawsuit alone is only one of many factors influencing quality, he adds. But creating a more inviting environment for doctors can make a big difference by encouraging the increased use of hospitalists. “Having a hospitalist in the hospital all the time,” he says, “is an obvious quality improvement.” TH
Bryn Nelson is a freelance medical writer based in Seattle.
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