Clinical Question: Are hospitalized patients experiencing an increased mortality risk at the end-rotation resident transition in care and is this association related to the Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education (ACGME) 2011 duty-hour regulations?
Background: Prior studies of physicians’ transitions in care were associated with potential adverse patient events and outcomes. A higher mortality risk was suggested among patients with a complex hospital course or prolonged length of stay in association to house-staff transitions of care.
Setting: 10 University-affiliated U.S. Veterans Health Administration hospitals.
Synopsis: 230,701 patient discharges (mean age, 65.6 years; 95.8% male sex; median length of stay, 3 days) were included. The transition group included patients admitted at any time prior to an end-of-rotation who were either discharged or deceased within 7 days of transition. All other discharges were considered controls.
The primary outcome was in-hospital mortality rate; secondary outcomes included 30-day and 90-day mortality and readmission rates. An absolute increase of 1.5% to 1.9% in a unadjusted in-hospitality risk was found. The 30-day and 90-day mortality odds ratios were 1.10 and 1.21, respectively. A possible stronger association was found among interns’ transitions in care and the in-hospital and after-discharge mortality post-ACGME 2011 duty hour regulations. The latter raises questions about the interns’ inexperience and their amount of shift-to-shift handoffs. An adjusted analysis of the readmission rates at 30-day and 90-day was not significantly different between transition vs. control patients.
Bottom line: Elevated in-hospital mortality was seen among patients admitted to the inpatient medicine service at the end-of-rotation resident transitions in care. The association was stronger after the duty-hour ACGME (2011) regulations.
Citations: Denson JL, Jensen A, Saag HS, et al. Association between end-of-rotation resident transition in care and mortality among hospitalized patients. JAMA. 2016 Dec 6;316(21):2204-13.
Dr. Orjuela is assistant professor of neurology at the University of Colorado School of Medicine, Aurora.