Complexity in hospital internal medicine departments: what are we talking about?

Submitted: 26 July 2013
Accepted: 26 July 2013
Published: 19 September 2013
Abstract Views: 2329
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Internal medicine (IM) patients are mostly elderly, with multiple complex co-morbidities, usually chronic. The complexity of these patients involves the intricate entanglement of two or more systems (e.g. body and disease, family-socio-economic and environmental status, coordination of care and therapies) and this requires comprehensive, multi-dimensional assessment (MDA). Despite attempts to improve management of chronic conditions, and the availability of several MDA tools, defining the complex patient is still problematic. The complex profile of our patients can only be described through the best assessment tools designed to identify their characteristics. In order to do this, the Federation of Associations of Hospital Doctors on Internal Medicine FADOI has created its own vision of IM. This involves understanding the different needs of the patient, and analyzing diseases clusters and the possible relationships between them. By exploring the real complexity of our patients and selecting their real needs, we can exercise holistic, anthropological and appropriate choices for their treatment and care. A simpler assessment approach must be adopted for our complex patients, and alternative tools should be used to improve clinical evaluation and prognostic stratification in a hierarchical selection of priorities. Further investigation of complex patients admitted to IM wards is needed.

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Nardi, R., Berti, F., Greco, A., Scanelli, G., Leandri, P., Reta, M., Mazzetti, M., Pasquale, A., Belmonte, G., Magnani, M., Frasson, S., Baldo, C., Gussoni, G., Vescovo, G., La Regina, M., Campanini, M., Iori, I., Mathieu, G., Mazzone, A., & Nozzoli, C. (2013). Complexity in hospital internal medicine departments: what are we talking about?. Italian Journal of Medicine, 7(3), 142–155. https://doi.org/10.4081/itjm.2013.142

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