- February 7th 2012
More outpatient visits are ending with the doctor recommending that the patient make an appointment to see another physician. It's a fact that probably is contributing to rising health care costs, says a Jan. 23 study in Archives of Internal Medicine.
Between 1999 and 2009, the percentage of ambulatory visits that resulted in a referral nearly doubled from 4.8% to 9.3%, the study said.
Researchers evaluated Centers for Disease Control and Prevention data from more than 845,000 patient visits between 1993 and 2009, focusing on the period from 1999 to 2009. They were surprised by the increase in referrals, said Bruce Landon, MD, MSc, study co-author and professor with Harvard Medical School's Dept. of Health Care Policy.
"It is not something we would have predicted, particularly given the relative stability up until 10 years ago," he said.
Referral rates were high for both specialists and primary care physicians. The number of outpatient visits to specialists that resulted in [Read more]