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Transition From Home to Hospital Rarely Seamless
Date:4/21/2009

Continuity of care between primary physician and hospital is decreasing, study finds,,,,

TUESDAY, April 21 (HealthDay News) -- In an ideal world, your primary-care physician would be the one who directed your health care whether you were home or in the hospital, enhancing your comfort level.

But, in reality, that type of seamless care is on the decline -- at least for older Americans.

A new study found that among Medicare patients, continuity of care was lacking, with only about one-third of those hospitalized seen by their own physician while they were in the hospital.

"Patients should know that it is very unlikely that you will be taken care of by your outpatient physician during a hospitalization," said the study's lead author, Dr. Gulshan Sharma, an assistant professor of medicine at the University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston.

According to the study, published in the April 22/29 issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association, continuity of care is comprised of three components:

  • Continuity in information.
  • Continuity in health-care management.
  • Continuity in the physician-patient relationship.

These factors could be especially important for older patients who may have more chronic illness and may need a higher level of medical management and shared decision-making, according to the study.

"For patients, particularly geriatric patients with complex medical needs, continuity of care is probably ideal," said Dr. Laurie Jacobs, director of the Resnick Gerontology Center at Montefiore Medical Center and Albert Einstein College of Medicine in New York City. "Given a choice, anyone would want someone they know, someone they trust and someone they've communicated with in the past. But it's not always medically necessary, even though it might be ideal."

Jacobs added that this kind of continuity of care is
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