Should hospitalists or intensivists manage ICU patients?

Many hospitals prefer so-called “closed” intensive care units solely managed by intensive care specialists.

The reason being that specialists can supposedly better adhere to quality measures, and hence lower costs, which are goals that hospital administrators pine for.

The problem is, there aren’t enough intensivists to staff closed-ICUs for many medical centers across the country.

So, hospitalsts are stepping in as a “stop-gap” measure, and in some cases, become a more permanent solution to ICU staffing (via Dr. RW).

Already, primary care doctors are deferring hospital care to hospitalists, and now, ICUs are being increasingly staffed by them as well. It’s inevitable that hospitalists will become the primary managers for almost every hospitilized patient, with specialists being involved in a consultation role only.

That fact should keep internal medicine thriving well into the future, albeit focused on an increasingly inpatient capacity.

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