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'Medical Home' Project Cuts Emergency Room Visits

Extra help for the family means care for children with complex disease can be better managed

TUESDAY, March 30 (HealthDay News) -- Children with complex disease are less likely to be taken to the emergency room for treatment if their families are given extra support to organize their children's health care needs, and care is coordinated by one constant source such as a general pediatrician, according to a study published online March 11 in the Journal of Pediatrics.

Thomas S. Klitzner, M.D., of the University of California in Los Angeles, and colleagues enrolled 43 patients in the project which comprised a 60-minute intake appointment, follow-up appointments that lasted twice as long as a standard consultation, access to a family liaison officer to help them navigate the health care system, and a binder that collated all the relevant information in one place.

When the researchers analyzed data on 30 patients, they found that there was a significant decrease in the average number of emergency room visits, from 1.1 per patient in the year before enrollment to 0.5 in the year afterwards. The study also highlighted the need to train future pediatricians in the principles underlying the program.

"While the medical home concept has been shown to be effective in community pediatric practices, it has not been a standard part of the educational curriculum for our country's future pediatricians," Klitzner said in a statement.

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