ALLERGY, RESPIRATORY
Climate Change Could Sting Allergy, Asthma Sufferers
New Spray Could Benefit Cystic Fibrosis Patients
Traffic, Dust Linked to Asthma in Kids
ALTERNATIVE MEDICINE
Acupuncture May Ease Depression During Pregnancy
Wristbands May Lessen Nausea After Radiation
Regular Yoga May Improve Eating Habits
ANIMAL CARE
'Comfort Dogs' Come to Emotional Rescue
Safe Toys for Dogs
Separation Anxiety, Canine-Style
BONES & JOINTS
More Faces Being Spared in Motor Vehicle Accidents
Vitamin K Doesn't Slow Bone Loss
Vitamin C Protects Some Elderly Men From Bone Loss
CANCER
Higher Vitamin D Intake Could Cut Cancer Risk
Tanning Beds Shown To Raise Cancer Risk, Study Says
Study Suggests Link Between Cell Phones and Brain Tumors
CAREGIVING
Stressed Health Care Workers Battle 'Compassion Fatigue'
Preventing Shaken Baby Syndrome
Many Alzheimer's Caregivers Admit to Abusive Behavior
CIRCULATORY SYSTEM
Health Tip: Are You Anemic?
Laughter Can Boost Heart Health
Night Shift Work Hard on the Heart
COSMETIC
Study Evaluates Laser Therapies for Hair Removal
Health Tip: After Liposuction
With Psoriasis, the Internet May Offer Hope
DENTAL, ORAL
Sports Drinks May Be Tough on Teeth
Dental Implants Need More Work Than Root Canals
Good Oral Hygiene May Protect Against Heart Infections
DIABETES
Chamomile Tea May Ward Off Diabetes Damage
Out-of-Control Blood Sugar May Affect Memory
Saliva Test Could Monitor Type 2 Diabetes
DIET, NUTRITION
Memory Loss Help from Brain Supplement Prevagen
TV Food Ads Promote Bad Diets
Mediterranean Diet Enriched With Nuts Cuts Heart Risks
DISABILITIES
Review Finds Marijuana May Help MS Patients
Could Your Cell Phone Help Shield You From Alzheimer's?
ENVIRONMENTAL HEALTH
Cats Can Trigger Eczema in Some Infants
1976 Italian Dioxin Release Damaged Babies' Thyroids
Ozone Pollution Taking Toll on American Lives
EYE CARE, VISION
When Corks Fly, Watch the Eyes
Unconscious Learning: In the Eye of the Beholder?
It's a Whole New Outlook for Cataract Patients
FITNESS
Simple Exercise Precautions To Help Keep Baby Boomers Fit
Run for Your Life
FDA Mandates New Warnings for Botox
GASTROINTESTINAL PROBLEMS
Soothing Imagery May Help Rid Some Kids of Stomach Pain
New Yogurt May Ease Stomach Ulcers
New Guidelines Issued for Management of IBS
GENERAL HEALTH
Swine Flu May Have Infected More Than 100,000 Americans
Have Fun This Summer, But DO Be Careful
Tune Up Your Health With Music
HEAD & NECK
Many Children Will Outgrow Headaches
Ski Helmets Encouraged for All
Zen May Thicken Brain, Thwart Pain
HEALTH & TECHNOLOGY
Study Suggests Link Between Cell Phones and Brain Tumors
E-Mailing Your Way to Healthier Habits
'Comfort Dogs' Come to Emotional Rescue
HEARING
Noise Hurts Men's Hearing More, Study Shows
Summer Sounds Can Lead to Hearing Loss
HEART & CARDIOVASCULAR
Ginkgo Won't Prevent Heart Attack, Stroke in Elderly
Fewer Heart Attacks After England Goes Smoke-Free
Review Confirms Links Between Diet, Heart Health
INFECTIOUS DISEASE
Chinese 'Devil Dung' Plant Could Be a Swine Flu Fighter
Swine Flu Closes Three Schools in NYC
Hand Washing 10 Times a Day May Help Keep Flu Away
INFERTILITY
Obesity May Affect Fertility in Young Womene
KID'S HEALTH
Meaningful Conversations Boost Kids' Language Skills
Protect Your Kids From Swine Flu While at Camp
Traffic, Dust Linked to Asthma in Kids
MEN'S HEALTH
Could Chinese Herb Be a Natural Viagra?
Noise Hurts Men's Hearing More, Study Shows
Varicose Veins May Mask Larger Problem
MENTAL HEALTH
Environmental Chemicals May Affect Male Reproduction
Brain Scans Show How Humans 'Hear' Emotion
Mind Exercise Might Help Stroke Patients
PAIN
Tai Chi May Help Ease Fibromyalgia
Acupuncture, Real or Fake, Eases Back Pain
Alleviating Rheumatoid Arthritis
PHYSICAL THERAPY
PREGNANCY
Heart Defects in Newborns Linked to Antidepressants
Calcium Supplements Cut Blood Lead Levels During Pregnancy
Sugary Colas Tied to Gestational Diabetes
SENIORS
Community Exercise Programs Boost Seniors' Strength
Laughter Can Stimulate a Dull Appetite
Video Gaming Just Might Fight Aging
SEXUAL HEALTH
SLEEP DISORDERS
Pay Attention to Signs That Say You're Too Fatigued to Drive
Meditation May Help Put Primary Insomnia to Bed
Lose Weight, Sleep Apnea May Improve
WOMEN'S HEALTH
A Brisk Pace May Keep Stroke at Bay
Flame-Retardant Chemical Linked to Conception Problems
Broccoli May Help Battle Breast Cancer
Add your Article

Transition From Home to Hospital Rarely Seamless

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 isn't always possible in the current health-care setting. "From the physician and the health-system perspective, it's difficult to practice in an ideal fashion," she noted. She said fewer doctors are choosing to go into primary care and that reimbursement issues often limit physicians. Also, many medical centers have moved to a "hospitalist" model, where a doctor on staff at the hospital is in charge of a patient's care.

For the new study, Sharma and his colleagues reviewed a national sample of Medicare claims that included more than 3 million hospital admissions from 1996 through 2006. All of the participants were older than 66 years.

In 1996, the researchers found, 50.5 percent of people hospitalized were seen by at least one physician they had seen as an outpatient. By 2006, that number had dropped to 39.8 percent.

They also found that 44.3 percent of people who said they had a primary-care physician were seen by that doctor in a hospital in 1996. Ten years later, that percentage was down to 31.9 percent. People living in large metropolitan areas and those being seen in large teaching hospitals were the least likely to be seen by their primary care physician, according to the study.

Although people may assume their regular physician and the hospital doctors are in communication, Sharma said that's often not the case. "Post-discharge communication is very poor. It only occurs about 20 percent of the time," he said.

Both Sharma and Jacobs said the health-care system is shifting to the hospitalist model, and that electronic medical records would go a long way toward bridging the communication gap between outpatient and inpatient care.

-Serena Gordon

More information

For more on hospital care, visit the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.



SOURCES: Gulshan Sharma, M.D., M.P.H., assistant professor of medicine, University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston; Laurie G. Jacobs, M.D., professor of clinical medicine, and division head, geriatrics, and director, Resnick Gerontology Center, Albert Einstein College of Medicine and Montefiore Medical Center, New York City; April 22/29, 2009, Journal of the American Medical Association

Last Updated: April 21, 2009

Copyright 2009 ScoutNews, LLC. All rights reserved.

more articles at www.eholistic.com