Hospitalists are physicians whose primary professional focus is the general medical care of hospitalized patients. Family physicians possess unique attitudes, skills, and knowledge which qualify them to provide continuing and comprehensive medical care to each member of the family regardless of sex, age, or type of problem.
Data from an AAFP survey shows that 73.7% of family physicians have hospital admission privileges, 31.6% have privileges in a coronary care unit, and 39.9% have privileges in an intensive care unit.
Not all hospitalists are internists. A Society of Hospital Medicine (SMH) survey on compensation and production statistics shows that approximately 89.6% of hospitalists surveyed are trained in general internal medicine. Approximately 3.68% are trained in family medicine, about 5.51% are pediatricians, and 1.21% are trained as med-peds.
Access to care is an important public health concern in the United States. Providing comprehensive services to a diverse population requires a cooperative relationship among a variety of health professionals. In some settings, there has been a movement to adopt a policy that requires that all hospitalists must be internists.
Such policy violates policies of the AAFP and the SHM. Both organizations hold that the opportunity to participate as a hospitalist should be open to all interested physicians whose education, training, and current competence qualify them to serve effectively in this role.
Based on the above information, we urge organizations to reconsider any policy that otherwise limits qualified family physicians from applying for positions as hospitalists.
Note: This joint statement was developed by a joint task force of the American Academy of Family Physicians and the Society of Hospital Medicine.
Family physicians are participating on both sides of the new models of health care delivery, which utilize a dedicated inpatient physician (or hospitalist) to manage the inpatient care of general adult medicine patients referred by primary care physicians in the community. The AAFP believes that family physicians are well trained and highly qualified to serve in these roles, and that participation in such arrangements should be voluntary for both the referring physician and the patient involved.
Because continuity of care has been a hallmark of the specialty of family practice, the AAFP is especially concerned about safeguarding continuity in these new models through adequate communication. The following guidelines are intended to support quality care to patients and their families, and to clarify expectations for communication between physicians participating in such systems.
As health care systems experiment with models of inpatient care management (hospitalist systems), the AAFP supports and encourages the following principles:
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