Communication problems between hospitalists and primary care providers lead to postdischarge problems for seniors

Research Activities, July 2011, No. 371

Primary care physicians (PCPs) are much less likely to care for patients in the hospital—a role largely taken over by hospitalists. Also, with the emphasis on shorter hospital stays, more extensive postdischarge followup is often warranted for patients, which then becomes the responsibility of the patient's PCP. Despite the increased need for more extensive postdischarge followup, communication between hospitalists and PCPs has been characterized as poor and ineffective. A new study suggests that this is the case, especially when the PCP is unaware their patient was in the hospital.

The study found that 42 percent (27) of 64 frail, elderly patients from a large urban hospital reported a postdischarge problem. The most common problems were patients having difficulty obtaining follow-up tests and test results. Also, many patients needed reevaluation and had to be either readmitted to the hospital or go to the emergency department. Other patients reported that they were not properly prepared for discharge, with most of them not receiving proper discharge materials, which then caused other problems. Thirty percent of the 40 PCPs surveyed reported being unaware of their patient's hospitalization. Patients of these PCPs were twice as likely to report a postdischarge problem. This study was supported by the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (HS17119).

See "Problems after discharge and understanding of communication with their primary care physicians among hospitalized seniors: A mixed methods study," by Vineet M. Arora, M.D., Megan L. Prochaska, B.A., Jeanne M. Farnan, M.D., and others in the September 2010 Journal of Hospital Medicine 5(7), pp. 385-391.

Current as of July 2011
Internet Citation: Communication problems between hospitalists and primary care providers lead to postdischarge problems for seniors: Research Activities, July 2011, No. 371. July 2011. Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, Rockville, MD. http://www.ahrq.gov/news/newsletters/research-activities/jul11/0711RA15.html