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Physician Continuity Not Tied to Adverse Hospital Events

Study looked at continuity in nonteaching hospitalist service at academic hospital

WEDNESDAY, Dec. 31, 2014 (HealthDay News) -- Adverse events in hospitalized patients are not associated with continuity of hospitalist physicians, according to a study published online Dec. 19 in the Journal of Hospital Medicine.

Kevin J. O'Leary, M.D., from the Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine in Chicago, and colleagues assessed the effect of physician continuity on the incidence of adverse events in patients admitted to a nonteaching hospitalist service in an academic hospital. Physician continuity was evaluated using the Number of Physicians Index (NPI; the total number of unique hospitalists caring for a patient) and the Usual Provider of Care (UPC) Index (the proportion of encounters with the most frequently encountered hospitalist).

The researchers found that based upon 474 hospitalizations, each one-unit increase in the NPI (i.e., less continuity) was significantly associated with the incidence of one or more adverse events (odds ratio, 1.75), although the association did not remain significant in adjusted models. There was no association between UPC and the incidence of adverse events. Across models, the direction of the effect of discontinuity on adverse events was inconsistent.

"Hospitalist physician continuity does not appear to be associated with the incidence of adverse events," the authors write.

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