Letter from the Editor

This month's issue includes stories on guidelines, hospital care at home, and patient satisfaction, among others.

At the Society of Critical Care Medicine's annual meeting in January, speakers imparted two distinct messages about guidelines. The first was that physicians don't use guidelines nearly as much as they say they do—and this is a problem. The second was that guidelines are often flawed by weak research and biased experts, and they need to be viewed with a critical eye. In some cases, these two messages were delivered by the same person. Our cover story explores how to critically evaluate guidelines and how to apply them to everyday practice in an intelligent, practical way.

The idea of a hospitalist making house calls may seem counterintuitive, but that's exactly what happens in the Hospital at Home program, now running in several locations around the country. The brainchild of a Johns Hopkins geriatrician, the program essentially delivers hospital-level care to patients at home, avoiding a potentially stressful hospital experience. Our feature story explains the kinds of patients who qualify for the program, logistical concerns, and evidence on outcomes.

Patient satisfaction doesn't begin and end with HCAHPS. We discuss how best to understand your patients' feelings about their hospital experience and what to do once you've identified problem areas within the hospital—and with individual physicians. Meanwhile, medical students and residents from Yale-New Haven Hospital in Connecticut share what they learned from interesting patients in our quarterly installment of The Brief Case.

If you'd like to write for The Brief Case, or discuss any stories in the magazine, feel free to email us. We'd love to hear from you.

Jessica Berthold
Editor, ACP Hospitalist