Keeping the Same Doctor Might Just Save Your Life….

Keeping the Same Doctor Might Just Save Your Life….

A recent study published in the journal BMJ Open by Sir Denis Gray et al. found a correlation between the length of a given patient’s continuity of care by the same doctor and the patient’s mortality rate.  In 18 of 22 studies which included data related to mortality and length of the doctor-patient relationship in nine different countries (including US, England, South Korea, and Israel) the “all cause” mortality was lower in patients with a longer doctor-patient relationship.

While admitting the association does not prove that it is the cause, the authors found better compliance with medical advice, best vaccination rates, better preventative health compliance, and fewer emergency hospital admissions in the longer continuity of care group.   A prolonged continuity of care seems to allow patients to feel more comfortable about sharing their intimate problems with their doctors and time for their doctors to accumulate information, become better acquainted with the patients, and then offer better advice and treatment for their patients.  The authors’ findings suggest that this is true across the medical specialties and not only in primary care.

Professor Chris Salisbury of the University of Bristol says, “When people are ill, it is very worrying, and having someone that you can trust that you can talk to about it is really important.”  While the emphasis in the media is often on a new therapy or technology, this study suggests that the “human side” of medicine is still very important.  As you might suspect, having a prolonged relationship with your physician appears to produce tangible benefits.

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