Specialties performing paracentesis procedures at university hospitals: Implications for training and certification

Jeffrey H. Barsuk*, Joe Feinglass, Sarah E. Kozmic, Samuel F. Hohmann, Daniel Ganger, Diane B. Wayne

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

13 Scopus citations


BACKGROUND: Paracentesis procedure competency is not required for internal medicine or family medicine board certification, and national data show these procedures are increasingly referred to interventional radiology (IR). However, practice patterns at university hospitals are less clear. OBJECTIVE: To evaluate which specialties perform paracentesis procedures at university hospitals, compare characteristics of patients within each specialty, and evaluate length of stay (LOS) and hospital costs. DESIGN, SETTING, PATIENTS: Observational administrative database review of patients with liver disease who underwent paracentesis procedures in hospitals participating in the University HealthSystem Consortium (UHC) Database from January 2010 through December 2012. UHC is an alliance of 120 academic medical centers and their 290 affiliated hospitals. EXPOSURE: Patients with liver disease who underwent inpatient paracentesis procedures. MEASUREMENTS: We compared characteristics of patients who underwent paracentesis procedures by physician specialty, modeling the effects of patient characteristics on the likelihood of IR referral. We also analyzed LOS and hospital costs among patients with a >20% predicted probability of IR referral. RESULTS: There were 97,577 paracentesis procedures performed during 70,862 hospital stays in 204 hospitals. IR performed 29% of paracenteses versus 49% by medicine and medicine subspecialties including gastroenterology/hepatology. Patients who were female, obese, and those with lower severity of illness were more likely to be referred to IR. Patients with a medicine or gastroenterology/hepatology paracentesis had a similar LOS compared to IR. Hospital costs were an estimated as $1308 less for medicine and $803 less for gastroenterology/hepatology compared to admissions with IR procedures (both P=0.0001). CONCLUSIONS: Internal medicine- and family medicine-trained clinicians frequently perform paracentesis procedures on complex inpatients but are not currently required to be competent in the procedure. Increasing bedside paracentesis procedures may reduce healthcare costs.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)162-168
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of hospital medicine
Issue number3
StatePublished - Mar 2014

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Leadership and Management
  • Internal Medicine
  • Fundamentals and skills
  • Health Policy
  • Care Planning
  • Assessment and Diagnosis

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