Resource Utilization and Billing in a Resident-Managed Inpatient Consult Service

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1 Scopus citations


Objective: Patient care delivered by residents is an educational opportunity to foster autonomy. These services, however, may not be billed without direct faculty supervision. This quality improvement project analyzes descriptive data, procedures, and billing from an academic otolaryngology–head and neck surgery department’s inpatient consult service. Methods: This prospective cohort study collected descriptive and billing data on all consults over 30 consecutive days. Data collected described bedside procedures and operative interventions. Encounters were Current Procedural Terminology coded and equivalent work relative value unit (wRVU) calculated. Codes submitted for billing were reviewed to identify opportunities for inpatient billing improvement. Results: Ninety-eight new consults were included, and 105 bedside procedures were performed. Flexible laryngoscopy (n = 27), I&D (incision and drainage; n = 11), and suturing (n = 11) were the most performed bedside procedures. Operative intervention was required in 15 encounters. The inpatient consult team provided the equivalent of 391.39 wRVU. Seventy-three percent of operative compared to 3% of bedside procedures were submitted for billing. Discussion: The productivity of our team approximated 61.8% of a full-time general otolaryngologist but with decreased billing submissions. Balance between resident autonomy, education, quality patient care, and the ability to capture service revenue is complex. Strategies other institutions have used to capture missed billing opportunities have included a hospitalist model, mid-level providers, and resident billing. Implications for Practice: This study characterizes an academic inpatient consult service. Results describe a case for improving the structure of the inpatient consult service, caution that studies collecting data via department billing may underrepresent services, and suggest alternative service structures to overcome identified billing limitations.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)244-249
Number of pages6
JournalOtolaryngology - Head and Neck Surgery (United States)
Issue number2
StatePublished - Aug 1 2020


  • PS/QI
  • consult
  • hospital
  • inpatient service
  • otolaryngology
  • resident education

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery
  • Otorhinolaryngology


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