Letter from the Editor

Last spring, when we decided to recognize top hospitalists, we had no idea what to expect.

Last spring, when we decided to recognize top hospitalists, we had no idea what to expect. Would everyone recommend the same couple of leaders in the field or perhaps, instead, nominate themselves? So when the nominations started rolling in, we were impressed by the depth and variety of the nominees. For the most part, the physicians selected as Top Hospitalists are not world famous. (In fact, we made some effort to avoid profiling the hospitalists you all already know.) The honorees are a hardworking group of men and women practicing medicine in diverse and interesting ways. The physicians on our editorial advisory board reviewed all of the nominations and helped us select 10 hospitalists who stood out for their contributions in areas such as leadership, innovation and quality improvement. Check out the profiles and get to know some new colleagues. Maybe you'll find a few strategies to apply in your own practice, or get an idea of who you'd like to nominate as a 2009 Top Hospitalist.

Whatever their particular focus, just about all hospitalists are concerned with improving quality and patient safety. Two features in this month's issue address common challenges in quality improvement. Bar coding of medications seems like a great boon to safety, explains writer Sheila Dyan, but poor implementation can lead to dangerous workarounds by staff charged with getting the right medication to the right patient. Next, we look at the third most common hospital error—failure to rescue — and the efforts some hospitals are making to ensure that deteriorating patients are noticed before it's too late. From deciding which vital signs trigger an alert to leading rapid response teams, hospitalists have a major role to play in improving this aspect of care.

Of course, there's no better way to study the care of patients than to become one. In the second edition of his new column, our editorial advisor, Jamie Newman, FACP, hilariously relays the story of his recent hip replacement. If only every admission were so entertaining. Please continue to send us your funny stories, angry responses, difficult questions, etc. at acphospitalist[EACHAT]acponline.org.

Stacey Butterfield