Study: Inpatients cared for by primary care physicians have lower mortality rates

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Hospitalized patients may see lower mortality rates if seen by their primary care physician rather than a hospitalist, according to a study in JAMA Internal Medicine.

For the study, researchers used claims data to examine 560,651 hospitalizations from Jan. 1 through Dec. 31, 2013, for the 20 most common medical diagnoses among fee-for-service Medicare beneficiaries.

The study found primary care physicians and other generalists used consultations 3 percent and 6 percent more than hospitalists, respectively.

Patients seen by primary care physicians also experienced lengths of stay that were 12 percent longer compared with those seen by hospitalists, according to the study. For patients seen by other generalists, lengths of stay were 6 percent longer compared with those seen by hospitalists.

But researchers said patients seen by primary care physicians were more likely to be discharged home compared with patients seen by hospitalists, while that was least likely among patients seen by other generalists.

Additionally, the study found patients seen by primary care physicians had lower 30-day mortality than hospitalist patients, while the mortality rate of patients of other generalists had a higher 30-day mortality.

"A PCP's prior experience with a patient may be associated with inpatient use of resources and patient outcomes," the study's authors concluded. "Patients cared for by their own PCP had slightly longer lengths of stay and were more likely to be discharged home but also were less likely to die within 30 days compared with those cared for by hospitalists or other generalists."


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