ALLERGY, RESPIRATORY
Using Music and Sports to Improve Kids' Asthma
Know Your Asthma Triggers
Air Pollution May Raise Blood Pressure
ALTERNATIVE MEDICINE
Quit Smoking the Holistic Way
Maggots as Good as Gel in Leg Ulcer Treatments
Traditional Chinese Therapy May Help Ease Eczema
ANIMAL CARE
Safe Toys for Dogs
'Comfort Dogs' Come to Emotional Rescue
Beware of Dog Bites
BONES & JOINTS
Gene Therapy May Ease Rheumatoid Arthritis
High Birth Weight Doubles Risk of Rheumatoid Arthritis
B Cells Can Act Alone in Autoimmune Diseases
CANCER
Poor Women Seem to Be Skipping Breast Cancer Drugs
Many Cancer Patients Turn to Complementary Medicine
Low Vitamin D Levels May Initiate Cancer Development
CAREGIVING
Bariatric Surgery Centers Don't Deliver Better Outcomes
Hispanic Children More Likely to Have Hearing Loss
UV Lights, Fans May Curb TB Spread in Hospitals
CIRCULATORY SYSTEM
Potassium-Rich Foods May Cut Stroke, Heart Disease Risk
Common Antioxidant Might Slow Parkinson's
High Blood Fat Levels Common in Americans
COSMETIC
Wrinkle Fillers Need Better Label Warnings: FDA Panel
Science May Banish Bad Hair Days
Get Sugared!.... Its a sweet choice for hair removal
DENTAL, ORAL
Sports Drinks May Be Tough on Teeth
Biological Product Shows Promise Against Gum Disease
Gummy Bears Join Cavity Fight
DIABETES
24 Million Americans Had Diabetes in 2007
Drug May Not Help Diabetes-Related Eye Damage
Exercise Protects Black Women From Type 2 Diabetes
DIET, NUTRITION
Many Kids Don't Need the Vitamins They're Taking
Coffee Drinking Lowers Women's Stroke Risk
Antioxidant-Rich Foods Lose Nutritional Luster Over Time
DISABILITIES
Could Your Cell Phone Help Shield You From Alzheimer's?
Review Finds Marijuana May Help MS Patients
ENVIRONMENTAL HEALTH
Golf Course Insecticides Pose Little Danger to Players
Scorpion Anti-Venom Speeds Children's Recovery
Gas Stove Emissions Boost Asthma in Inner-City Kids
EYE CARE, VISION
Action-Filled Video Games Boost Adult Vision
High Temps Degrade Contact Lens Solution: Study
Unconscious Learning: In the Eye of the Beholder?
FITNESS
More Steps a Day Lead to Better Health
Exercise Keeps the Brain Young
Will the Wii Keep You Fit?
GASTROINTESTINAL PROBLEMS
HRT Use Raises Risk of Stomach Trouble
Olive Oil May Protect Against Bowel Disease
Intestinal Bacteria Trigger Immune Response
GENERAL HEALTH
Natural Oils Help Lower Body Fat For Some
Research Confirms How Valuable A Healthy Lifestyle Can Be
Adults Need To Get Thier Food Facts Straight
HEAD & NECK
Many Children Will Outgrow Headaches
Ski Helmets Encouraged for All
Zen May Thicken Brain, Thwart Pain
HEALTH & TECHNOLOGY
Magnet Therapy May Ease Hard-to-Treat Depression
Using Light Therapy to Silence Harmful Brain Activity
Subway Defibrillators Save Lives
HEARING
Summer Sounds Can Lead to Hearing Loss
Noise Hurts Men's Hearing More, Study Shows
HEART & CARDIOVASCULAR
How Weight Loss Can Help the Heart
Coffee Is Generally Heart-Friendly
Fructose Boosts Blood Pressure, Studies Find
INFECTIOUS DISEASE
Surgical Masks Could Prevent Flu, Maybe
Swine Flu Now Reported in All 50 States
Hand Washing 10 Times a Day May Help Keep Flu Away
INFERTILITY
Obesity May Affect Fertility in Young Womene
KID'S HEALTH
Treat Kids to a Safe Halloween
Should Your Child Be Seeing a Chiropractor?
Babies Cared For In Others Homes Might Become Heavy Toddlers
MEN'S HEALTH
Varicose Veins May Mask Larger Problem
Drinking Green Tea May Slow Prostate Cancer
Noise Hurts Men's Hearing More, Study Shows
MENTAL HEALTH
Meditation, Yoga Might Switch Off Stress Genes
Fear Response May Stem From Protein in Brain
Keeping a Healthy Holiday Balance
PAIN
Alleviating Rheumatoid Arthritis
Tai Chi May Help Ease Fibromyalgia
Are We Exercising Pain Away? Not So Much.
PHYSICAL THERAPY
PREGNANCY
Sugary Colas Tied to Gestational Diabetes
Yoga's Benefits Outweigh Risks for Pregnant Women
Alternative Treatments May Boost IVF Success
SENIORS
The Juice From Beetroots May Boost Stamina
Video Gaming Just Might Fight Aging
Want Better Health in the New Year, Add Exercise to Your Day
SEXUAL HEALTH
SLEEP DISORDERS
Exercising Throat Muscles May Relieve Sleep Apnea
Better Sleep, Grades Seem to Go Up
Daylight Savings: Not a Bright Time for All
WOMEN'S HEALTH
Being Active an Hour a Day Puts Brakes on Weight Gain
Whole Grains, Bran May Fight Hypertension in Men
Simple Carbs Pose Heart Risk for Women
Add your Article

Many Hospital Patients Can't ID Their Doctors

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. Of those who gave at least one possible name, 60 percent gave an incorrect answer.

Yet, 56 percent of the patients said their understanding of their doctor's role was either "very good" or "excellent."

The University of Chicago team reported its findings in a research letter published in the Jan. 26 issue of the Archives of Internal Medicine.

A number of factors -- both patient-related and hospital-related -- seemed to influence a patient's inability to identify caretakers. Blacks, the elderly, those with less than a high school education and unmarried people had more difficulty identifying their physicians. Also, people admitted in an emergency room setting or at night by a graveyard shift (or "floating" team) were less likely to be able to identify their caregivers, the study found.

Still, 64 percent of the 1,901 patients who participated in a follow-up interview a month after being released from the hospital said they were "very satisfied" with their doctors.

The study authors said that teaching hospitals should nonetheless devote more attention to improving patient awareness of their caretaking team and the roles played by individual physicians.

"I'm a medical educator -- I teach students and residents," Arora said. "And I think it's important that we teach them to actively introduce themselves in a way that patients can understand what their role is."

But patients should also act to empower themselves by taking a proactive approach to identify those caring for them, she said.

She noted that some states have made a concerted effort to help patients in this way. The Lewis Blackman Hospital Patient Safety Act in South Carolina, for instance, mandates that "all clinical staff, clinical trainees, medical students, interns and resident physicians of a hospital shall wear badges clearly stating their names, their departments and their job or trainee titles -- in terms or abbreviations reasonably understandable to the average person."

But, one expert suggested that such consumer-friendly steps aren't enough, and that the responsibility for addressing the problem lies with medical professionals -- not patients.

"So the hospital staff -- and that means the doctors, the nurses, the residents and even the guy who cleans the room -- simply has to explain to patients again and again and again who they are and what their role is, whenever they go into the room," said Dr. Herbert Cushing, chief medical officer of Indiana University Hospital, which is a teaching hospital, and associate dean of student affairs at the university's School of Medicine.

-Alan Mozes

More information

The American Academy of Family Physicians has tips for talking with your doctor.



SOURCES: Vineet Arora, M.D., M.A., assistant professor, department of medicine, and associate program director, residency program, internal medicine, University of Chicago; Herbert Cushing, M.D., chief medical officer, Indiana University Hospital, and associate dean, student affairs, Indiana University School of Medicine; Jan. 26, 2009, Archives of Internal Medicine

Last Updated: Feb. 13, 2009

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