Study reveals the impact of not having a primary care physician



    Thousands of ER visits and hospital admissions could be avoided with
    access to a family doctor

    TORONTO, July 2 /CNW/ - A new report from the Institute for Clinical
Evaluative Sciences (ICES) reveals that not having a family doctor leads to
more emergency room visits and hospital admissions for those who have chronic
diseases in Ontario. The report comes on the heels of a report from the
Ontario Medical Association (OMA) that found since 2003, doctors have helped
provide care to 630,000 patients who didn't have a doctor previously, leaving
850,000 Ontarians without a doctor.
    "Recently, there has been some progress made in getting more people
access to a family doctor, but it is clear that we must stay vigilant with our
efforts or else we will continue to drain precious health resources and force
patients to suffer unnecessarily," noted Dr. Ken Arnold, a family physician
from Thunder Bay and President of the OMA. "The lack of access to a family
doctor, especially for those with chronic diseases, negatively impacts the
quality of life of patients and places unnecessary stress on our hospitals and
emergency rooms."
    The ICES investigative report, "The Impact of Not Having a Primary Care
Physician Among People with Chronic Conditions," has the following key
findings:

    
    -  95% of patients with chronic disease have a family physician and at
       least 85% are getting appropriate amount of visits with primary care.
    -  15% of Ontarians with at least one chronic condition receive less care
       than they need or have poor continuity of care, most likely reflecting
       problems accessing care and resulting in higher rates of emergency
       attendance and hospital admission.
    -  More than 118,000 excess emergency room visits (annually) due to
       patients without regular, continuous care by a family doctor.
    -  More than 17,000 excess hospital admissions (annually) due to
       patients without regular, continuous care by a family doctor.
    -  People in the youngest age group (20-44) males, those with the highest
       educational attainment, and rural residents were least likely to have
       a regular medical doctor.
    -  People with depression were less likely to have a regular medical
       doctor.
    

    "We have identified groups of people without family doctors and those who
are having problems accessing the health care system. This is leading to
serious consequences in the form of additional emergency visits and hospital
admissions that could have been avoided. As the population continues to age,
this problem may become substantially worse at the same time as Ontario
doctors are retiring," says Dr. Rick Glazier Principal Investigator, Senior
ICES Scientist and Family Physician at St. Michael's Hospital. "The good news
is this report finds that a higher proportion of people with chronic disease
have family doctors than does the general population, which is appropriate,
and the majority are getting sufficient visits with good continuity of care."
    "Our hospitals and emergency rooms offer high quality care for patients,
but this is an extremely expensive and inappropriate way to care for patients
who have chronic conditions such as heart disease, diabetes and asthma," said
Dr. Tom Weinberger, Chair of the OMA's Section of General and Family Practice.
"These patients will likely experience complications from their illness that
could otherwise be prevented and in many cases their overall conditions will
worsen without regular attention from a family doctor."


    
    Backgrounder
    ------------

    ICES Investigative Report - The Impact of Not having a Primary Care
    Physician Among People with Chronic Conditions

    Doctor Shortage
    ---------------

    -  One in 10 Ontarians do not having a regular medical doctor and many
       more people have problems accessing primary care.

    -  95% of patients with chronic disease have a family physician and 85%
       are getting appropriate numbers of visits in primary care.

    -  15% of Ontarians with at least one chronic condition have little to no
       continuous primary care by a family doctor.

    -  13% of doctors are accepting new patients (2004), down from 18 percent
       in 2001.

    Emergency Room Visits
    ---------------------

    -  118,181 excess emergency room visits due to patients without regular,
       continuous care by a family doctor.

    -  5% of emergency room visits could be avoided with regular access to a
       family doctor.

    Hospital Admissions
    -------------------

    -  17,344 excess hospital admissions due to patients without regular,
       continuous care by a family doctor

    -  More than 3% of hospital visits could potentially be avoided with
       regular access to a family doctor.

    Future Projections
    ------------------

    -------------------------------------------------------------------------
    Number of potentially avoidable emergency room visits:
    118,181

    Number of potentially avoidable emergency room visits by the year 2021:
    154,644 (an increase of 31 percent)
    -------------------------------------------------------------------------

    -------------------------------------------------------------------------
    Number of potentially avoidable hospital admissions:
    17,344

    Number of potentially avoidable hospital admissions by the year 2021:
    24,362 (an increase of 40 percent)
    -------------------------------------------------------------------------
    




For further information:

For further information: OMA Media Relations at (416) 340-2862 or toll
free at 1-800-268-7215 ext. 2862 or ICES Media Relations at (416) 480-4780


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