Primary care and emergency department use among elderly patients

November 19, 2007

In this population-based cross-sectional study of records for 95 173 elderly Quebec residents, Ionescu-Ittu and colleagues found that having a primary physician and a high level of continuity of care lowered emergency department use by elderly patients.

In addition to a lack of primary care, the authors found that residence in a rural area; low socioeconomic status and residence in a region with a higher physician:population ratio were also factors of increased emergency department use.

In a related commentary, Rosser and Schultz argue for the importance of promoting continuity of care. The authors state that the study by Ionescu-Ittu et al "makes the most significant contribution to a growing body of evidence demonstrating the benefits of continuity of care, especially in the elderly population." Rosser and Schultz conclude that this and other studies should "stimulate strategizing" within Canadian provincial and territorial health insurance plans to promote continuity of care for elderly patients or those with chronic diseases.
p. 1362 Continuity of primary care and emergency department utilization among elderly people
-- R. Ionescu-Ittu, J. McCusker, A. Ciampi, A.-M. Vadeboncoeur, D. Roberge, D. Larouche, J. Verdon, R. Pineault

Canadian Medical Association Journal

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