Objectives.

Inpatient medical services supervised by pediatric hospitalist physicians are a new development in academic medical centers in the United States. In a large pediatric teaching hospital, we compared length of stay, readmission rates, and hospital charges for children admitted to medical services with and without a hospitalist system of care.

Design.

This retrospective observational study compared a baseline year of a traditional ward service (TS) with a subsequent year of a new hospitalist system of care called the Generalist Inpatient Service (GIS). Data were obtained from the hospital's clinical, demographic, and financial databases and from selected record review. All hospitalizations were at least 24 hours long and did not involve a stay in an intensive care unit.

Results.

The average length of stay was longer for the 627 TS hospitalizations than for the 813 GIS hospitalizations (2.7 ± 2.0 vs 2.4 ± 1.7 days). Total hospital charges were significantly lower on the GIS ($3002 ± $2160 vs $2720 ± $1933) because of lower room and respiratory therapy charges. Three readmissions to the TS and 8 to the GIS occurred within 24 hours of hospital discharge and were, therefore, considered potentially preventable by a longer initial hospital stay.

Conclusions.

In a large pediatric teaching hospital, a system of inpatient care provided by hospitalists can reduce length of stay. This model has the potential to control hospital charges in a period of increasing health care costs.

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