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Poor communication found between primary care and emergency doctors

Improving communication between primary care and emergency physicians won't be easy, but it could be fostered through changes in electronic medical records, payment incentives and liability reform, a study suggests. After talking to 21 doctors in each specialty, researchers found spotty communication and poor coordination between the two groups. When physicians in the two specialties don't talk, patients can receive duplicative or misapplied treatments and may be admitted for unnecessary emergency care, according to a February study that the Center for Studying Health System Change conducted for the National Institute of Health Care Reform, a nonpartisan health policy research group ( Poor communication also means that primary care physicians don't get the chance to talk to patients about when it is appropriate to use an emergency department, and they don't have a chance to learn if their lack of office availability may drive patients to an ...

Physician empathy may mean better patient outcomes

Having empathy for patients isn't something physicians should do just to be nice. A study suggests that it also leads to better outcomes and should be seen as a key component of physician competence. In what is believed to be the first scientific analysis to link empathy with patient outcomes, researchers found that physicians with high empathy had patients with significantly greater control over their diabetes than patients of physicians with low empathy scores. The findings are in the March issue of Academic Medicine ( The 29 physicians who participated in the study completed the Jefferson Scale of Empathy, which assessed how empathetic they were to patients. Researchers then looked at A1c and LDL results for 891 diabetics whom the doctors treated. Among patients who had doctors with high empathy scores, 56% had an A1c test result below 7% and 59% had an LDL test below 100. Among doctors with low empathy scores, 40% of diabetics had an A1c ...

House bills would lift ban on physician-owned hospitals

Washington -- House lawmakers have introduced two pieces of legislation that would rescind a provision in the health system reform statute designed to stop the spread of physician-owned hospitals. Separate bills introduced by Reps. Doc Hastings (R, Wash.) and Sam Johnson (R, Texas) would repeal Section 6001 of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. The provision barred new physician-owned hospitals from obtaining Medicare certification starting Jan. 1, and it placed strict limits on existing hospitals that seek to expand their footprints or take on new physician investors beyond where they were at the time of the law's enactment. Physician hospital advocates said the move was crippling to an industry that provides high-quality, specialized care to millions of patients. Physician Hospitals of America, which represents many of the facilities, said the issue goes beyond the 275 doctor-owned hospitals that are in operation. "Much-needed expansion projects were halted at o ...