Is your own MD best in the hospital? Study eyes hospitalists

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CHICAGO (AP) _ The old-fashioned family doctor style of medicine could be lifesaving for elderly hospital patients.

That’s according to a big study that found benefits over the rapidly expanding use of doctors called hospitalists.

These hospital-based internists oversee hospital care instead of patients’ own physicians.

In the study of almost 600,000 Medicare hospital admissions, patients with common conditions including pneumonia, heart failure and urinary infections were slightly more likely to survive after discharge when treated by their own physicians. They were also more likely to be sent home rather than to a nursing home.

Hospitalist care can reduce costs and shorten stays. But the researchers say their results show certain patients may benefit more from hospital care by doctors who know them well.

The study was published Monday in JAMA Internal Medicine.