Purpose: Patient care quality appears to be similar when delivered by trainee and attending physicians. The authors conducted a systematic review and meta-analysis to examine whether outcomes differ for general internal medicine (GIM) patients admitted to teaching versus nonteaching services.
Method: The authors searched Medline, EMBASE, and Cochrane Library databases in May 2012 to identify peer-reviewed, English-language studies with contemporaneous controls comparing inpatient mortality, 30-day readmission rate, and/or length of stay (LOS) for inpatients admitted to teaching or nonteaching GIM services.
Results: The 15 included studies (1 randomized controlled trial, 14 observational) included 108,570 patients admitted to U.S. hospitals during 1987–2011. Inpatient mortality did not differ between teaching and nonteaching services (13 studies, 108,015 patients; 2.5% versus 2.8%; OR, 1.07; 95% CI, 0.87–1.32; I2 = 82%); results were consistent in risk-adjusted studies (adjusted OR, 0.91; 95% CI, 0.76–1.08) and higher-quality studies (OR, 0.94; 95% CI, 0.73–1.21). There were no differences in 30-day readmission rates (11 studies, 106,021 patients; 15.1% versus 13.1%; OR, 1.05; 95% CI, 0.93–1.18). Patients on teaching services appeared to have longer LOS (11 studies, 82,352 patients; unadjusted mean difference, 0.40 days; 95% CI, 0.04–0.77 days), but there was substantial heterogeneity (I2 = 95%). Differences disappeared in risk-adjusted studies (mean difference: –0.09 days; 95% CI, –0.24 to 0.06 days) and in higher-quality studies (mean difference: –0.05 days; 95% CI, –0.37 to 0.28 days).
Conclusions: There was no convincing evidence that outcomes differed substantively for patients admitted to teaching or nonteaching GIM services.