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ACP-ASIM Pressroom

Mandatory 'Hospitalist' Programs Denounced By 23 Leading Medical Societies

April 20, 1999

Managed Care Companies Criticized for Denying Patient Rights

(Washington, DC): Some managed care plans are denying patients the right to have their personal physician care for in them in the hospital by establishing mandatory hospitalist programs, says a letter sent today by the American College of Physicians - American Society of Internal Medicine and 23 other physician groups to leading managed care organizations.

Mandatory hospitalist programs require that a patient's regular physician transfer complete responsibility for patient care to a hospital-based physician upon entering the hospital.

"Patients must have the opportunity to discuss the potential advantages and disadvantages of hospitalist programs with their physicians and must be free to choose," says the letter. "Mandatory hospitalist programs are bad public policy, just as they are bad for individual patients."

To date, managed care companies in Florida, Maryland, Missouri, and Texas have established mandatory hospitalist programs.

A hospitalist program should be approved by the hospital medical staff before implementation, according to the letter. Furthermore, managed care plans must assure that adequate and timely communication of patient medical information between the hospitalist and referring physician is provided.

In addition to the ACP-ASIM, the letter was signed by the American Geriatrics Society, American Society of Clinical Oncology, American Academy of Facial Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery, American Academy of Family Physicians, American Association of Clinical Endocrinologists, American Association of Neurological Surgeons, American Association of Orthopaedic Surgeons, American Association for Thoracic Surgery, American College of Cardiology, American College of Occupational and Environmental Medicine, American Gastroenterological Association, American Medical Association, American Osteopathic Association, American Psychiatric Association, American Society of Anesthesiologists, American Society of Cataract and Refractive Surgery, American Society of General Surgeons, Association of American Medical Colleges, Congress of Neurological Surgeons, Renal Physicians Association, Society of Cardiovascular and Interventional Radiology, Society of Thoracic Surgeons

The letter has been sent to, among others, the American Association of Health Plans, the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association, CIGNA HealthCare, and Prudential HealthCare.

ACP-ASIM is the nation's largest medical specialty organization and the second largest physician group. Membership comprises more than 115,000 internal medicine physicians and medical students. Internists are the major providers of medical care to adults in America and treat more Medicare patients than any other medical specialist.

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Jack E. Pope, ACP-ASIM Washington Office, 202-261-4556

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