Lower risk of death for patients who see the same doctor after hospital treatment

July 16, 2004

Hospital readmission or relative risk of death decreases for patients who see a doctor who actually treated them during hospitalization, rather than another physician, after being released from their stay.

According to a study published in the Journal of General Internal Medicine, "Patients were significantly less likely to die or be readmitted if they were seen in follow-up by a hospital physician rather than a community physician or specialist." Risk of these outcomes further decreased with each visit, bringing to attention that continuity of care can greatly affect quality of patient recovery and can prevent undesirable results.

Factors preventing quality follow-up for patients included inadequate transfer of patient information or records to their primary care physician and also a doctor's unfamiliarity with hospitals' post-patient discharge therapies or procedures. The study suggests that improvements in these identified areas can potentially prevent or reduce "bad outcomes."

This population-based study took place over a 5-year period, analyzing patient data of adults from Ontario, Canada in the 30 days following release from a hospital stay. Of the 938,833 patients followed, 65,718 died or were readmitted.

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About the Author

Dr. Carl van Walraven is an Ontario Ministry of Health Career Scientist. He received his M.D. from the University of Toronto in 1991 and currently resides in Ottawa in Ontario, Canada. Dr. van Walraven is available for questions and interviews and can be reached at carlv@ohri.ca or 613-761-4903.

About the Journal of General Internal Medicine The Journal of General Internal Medicine (JGIM) is the official scientific publication of the Society of General Internal Medicine, whose mission is to promote improved patient care, research, and education in primary care and general internal medicine. JGIM articles focus on topics such as clinical research, curriculum development, epidemiology, prevention, and health care delivery in general internal medicine.

About Blackwell Publishing

Blackwell Publishing is the world's leading, independent society publisher with offices in the US, UK, Japan, Denmark, Australia, and Germany. Blackwell publishes over 700 journals in partnership with more than 550 academic and professional societies.

Blackwell Publishing Ltd.

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