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Familiar Doctor Linked to More Satisfaction for Urgent Care

Survey respondents prefer to see their own physicians compared to EDs, walk-in clinics

TUESDAY, Sept. 25 (HealthDay News) -- Patients who receive urgent medical care from family physicians or after-hours clinics affiliated with their physicians are more likely to be satisfied with the encounter than patients who use other sources of urgent care, according to research published in the September/October issue of the Annals of Family Medicine.

Michelle Howard, Ph.D., of McMaster University in Hamilton, Ontario, Canada, and colleagues analyzed survey data from 5,722 patients in Thunder Bay, Ontario. The city has a 24-hour emergency department, walk-in clinics that are open after regular hours, some physicians groups that offer evening and weekend care and nurse-staffed telephone triage. The researchers asked respondents about their recent use of urgent care services and their satisfaction based on a seven-point scale.

Respondents reported highest satisfaction with family physicians (mean score of 6.1) and physicians' after-hours clinic (score of 5.6, which wasn't significantly different). Sites that provided less satisfaction were emergency departments (5.3), telephone services (4.7) and walk-in clinics or more than one service (4.7).

"The finding that patients are most satisfied receiving care for a self-defined urgent health problem from their own physician or an after-hours clinic staffed in part by their own physician supports increasing financial and human resources to enhanced access to practice-based primary care services," the authors conclude.

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