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Family Medicine Study Will Focus on Problems After Hospital Stays

Posted by floriza in Primary Care Family Medicine

Since few studies have focused on what happens to patients after they are discharged from the hospital, a new primary care/family medicine study will do just that. A professor at the Florida State University College of Medicine has been awarded a grant from Healthcare Research and Quality to determine if patients, particularly the elderly in rural areas, suffer injuries or medical errors in the weeks after they have left the hospital.

The Tallahassee Memorial Hospital Group will participate, and the study will evaluate about 600 patients for the three weeks after their hospital stay. Fifty percent of the study participants will reside in rural areas.

Prior Studies

Two prior studies have been conducted to determine patient safety after hospitalization were done in Boston, Massachusetts and in Ottawa, Canada. The Boston study found that 19 percent of the patients experienced an “adverse event” after hospitalization, and the Ottawa study results were similar with 23 percent of the patients experiencing an “adverse event.”

These percentages are nearly six times as high as the number of adverse events that occur when patients are still in the hospital. These prior studies did not evaluate patients who live in rural settings, however, where access to primary care or family medicine health care services may be less readily available.

Goals of the Study

The goal of the researchers in Florida is to determine and provide guidelines to increase patient safety during the critical weeks following hospitalization.

They expect the rural patients to have more severe adverse events, and they hope to determine which of these events are preventable if guidelines can be devised and followed. In order for guidelines to be created, however, the causes of the adverse events must first be found.

The expectation is that most of these events will be the result of medication errors. This was the case with the prior study conducted in Boston. Since elderly patients tend to have more prescriptions than younger patients, medication errors are expected to be most prevalent among this population.

The researchers also hope to be able to develop a tool that would allow hospital personnel to screen patients in order to locate those most likely to experience an adverse event after discharge. This could cut down on the numbers of patients who experience these dangerous errors. It might also mean that some patients would need to be kept in the hospital longer for their safety.

Facilities that offer family medicine in New Jersey and other parts of the country provide follow-up care after hospital stays to better ensure that no adverse events occur.


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