Providers and patients bring different understandings of health and disease to their encounters in the hospital setting. The literature to date only infrequently addresses patient and provider concordance on the reported reason for hospitalization, that is, whether they express this reason in similar ways. An agreement or common ground between such understandings can serve as a basis for future communication regarding an illness and its treatment. We interviewed a convenience sample of patients on the medical wards of an urban academic medical center. We asked subjects to state the reason why their doctors admitted them to the hospital, and then compared their statement with the reason in the medical record. We defined concordance on reported reason for hospitalization as agreement between the patient's report and the reason abstracted from the chart. We interviewed and abstracted chart data from a total of 46 subjects. Concordance on reported reason for hospitalization was present in 24 (52%) and discordance in 17 (37%); 5 patients (11%) could not give any reason for their hospitalization. Among the 17 patients whose report was discordant with their chart, 12 (71%) reported a different organ system than was recorded in the chart. A significant proportion of medical inpatients could not state their physicians' reason for admission. In addition, patients who identify a different reason for hospitalization than the chart often give a different organ system altogether. Providers should explore patient understanding of the reason for their hospitalization to facilitate communication and shared decision making.
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