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Many Hospital Patients Can't ID Their Doctors
Date:2/13/2009

Facilities, especially teaching hospitals, have to do more to promote awareness, study says

FRIDAY, Feb. 13 (HealthDay News) -- Most hospital patients cannot identify -- by name or role -- the doctors assigned to their care, a new case study of one urban hospital suggests.

"The majority of hospitalized patients we looked at were not able to name anybody in charge of their care," said study author Dr. Vineet Arora, associate program director at the University of Chicago's internal medicine residency program. "And when they did name somebody, they got it wrong, incorrectly naming their primary care physician or some specialist. This reflects the fact that patients are seen by a lot of different doctors and teams, and they may simply not know who's in charge of their care."

"Of course," Arora added, "it's hard to know how generalizable this is, as we only looked at one institution. But I suspect that the findings are probably reflective of the current situation at a lot of urban teaching hospitals."

The authors noted that the institution used for the new study, the University of Chicago, is what's known as a "teaching hospital." Such hospitals "not only care for patients but also train the students and residents who are there under the supervision of a board-certified faculty physician," Arora explained.

Patients in teaching hospitals are typically attended to by larger teams of caretakers than at non-teaching hospitals. And Arora said that handoffs among assorted teams of health-care providers -- including physicians, interns, sub-interns, fellows, attending residents and medical students -- can present incoming patients with a "confusing environment."

For the study, Arora and her colleagues interviewed 2,807 people admitted to the inpatient general medicine service at the University of Chicago in 2005 and 2006. Three-quarters of those surveyed were unable to name anyone in charge of their care.
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