Observation Units. All Good. Right?

Bradley Flansbaum

Posted 2/06/12 on the Hospitalist Leader

Would you like to read about some good policy, but bad execution?  Browse on.

On the physician side of the ledger, we trust that observation units, i.e., geographic weigh stations to determine fitness of admission or discharge, are a good thing.  Earlier discharge, focused resource use, possibly less exposure to hospital badness—all winning strategies to improve efficiency.  What is the problem then?  From todays WSJ:

The issue arises when a Medicare beneficiary who comes to a hospital is placed in a status called “observation care.” This is supposed to mean that patient is being watched while doctors decide if she can be discharged, or if she is ill enough to be admitted as a true inpatient. Observation is typically supposed to last 48 hours or less.

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