Internal medicine physician embedded in an orthopedic service in a level 1 hospital: clinical impact


Background: The aim of our study was to evaluate the impact of an internist physician specialized in diabetes, appointed as an in-house physician in the orthopedic wards, on improving clinical outcomes and in particular 30-day mortality.

Methods: We analyzed a cohort of patients hospitalized more than 24 h in the orthopedic service. The analyses included a comparative analysis between the pre- and post-intervention time periods and an interrupted time series (ITS) analysis, which were conducted in stratification to three populations: whole population, patients with at least one chronic disease and/or older than 75 years of age and patients diagnosed with diabetes. The primary outcome was 30-day mortality following the hospitalization.

Results: A total of 11,546 patients were included in the study, of which 19% (2212) were hospitalized in the post intervention period. Although in the comparative analysis there was no significant change in 30-day mortality, in the ITS there was a decrease in the mortality trend during the post intervention period in the entire and chronic disease/elderly populations, compared to no change during the pre-intervention period: a post-intervention slope of – 0.14(p value < 0.001) and – 0.11(p value = 0.03), respectively. Additionally, we found decrease in length of stay, increase in transfers to the internal medicine department with a negative trend, increase in HbA1c testing during the hospitalization and changes in diabetes drugs administration.

Conclusion: The presence of an internist in the orthopedic wards is associated with health care improvement; decrease in the 30-day mortality trend, decrease in length of stay, increase in HbA1c testing during the hospitalization and an increase in diabetes drugs administration.