Study: Nursing home specialists could improve workforce, quality problems

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Creating a new medical specialty designed to meet the needs of nursing home residents could help address long-term care workforce and quality-of-care issues, some geriatrics experts recently suggested.

An article appearing in the March 17 issue of the Annals of Internal Medicine proposes establishing nursing home specialists within the medical community. Authors of the article cite a recent Institute of Medicine report showing that only 20% of physicians practice in nursing homes, and that actual work in long-term care facilities comprises just 4% of their time. Nursing home specialists would help to address the growing need for primary care physicians in nursing homes, says lead author Dr. Paul Katz of the University of Rochester School of Medicine and Dentistry, and president-elect of the American Medical Directors Association.

Katz calls his article a "call to action" for the medical community. "The quality of care in nursing homes remains inconsistent and in many respects sub-optimal," he writes. "Mainstream medicine must reinforce the nursing home as a legitimate medical practice site ... We propose that creating a nursing home medicine specialty would remedy the problems with care in skilled nursing facilities," he adds.

The article is available online at http://www.annals.org/cgi/reprint/150/6/411.pdf.