A new study has found that the patients who see the same doctor are less likely to die prematurely. The researchers from the study note that these particular patients are more open about their symptoms, more trusting of the doctor's medical advise, and more at ease to take prescriptions given to them.
A Matter Of Life Or Death
The team of researchers from the University of Exeter Medical School examined 22 studies of 1.4 million patients from the United Kingdom, France, the Netherlands, and the United States. Eighteen of the studies showed that patients were more likely to die during a given time period if they chose to switch doctors or hospitals.
The lead author of the study, Sir Denis Pereira Gray, stated that patients have always been aware of the importance of which doctor they see and how well they communicate with the healthcare professional. Sir Gray, who was the president of the Royal College of GPs, continued that this study suggests the quality of medical practice is now a life or death matter.
Dr. Ronald Epstein, a professor of family medicine, psychiatry, oncology, and medicine at the University of Rochester School of Medicine and Dentistry, stated that by patients sticking with the same doctor, it gives the doctor the opportunity to know more about their patients and the condition they are in. Dr. Epstein, who was not involved in the study continued that doctors are also able to have a better sense of their patients' preferences and patients will more likely follow through with their doctor's recommendations.
A study that was conducted in the United States found that 18.5 percent of diabetic patients who saw a different doctor died within 3 years. This was compared to the 8 percent that visited the same doctor for every visit. In Britain, patients who were able to see their preferred doctor were less likely to die from cancer or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.
Unfortunately, many patients are unable to see their doctors as senior doctors are claiming they are unable to provide their patients continued care. Surgeries have become understaffed and more family doctors are choosing to work part-time.
In a study conducted last month by the University of Leicester, only half of the patients had a preferred doctor and only half of them were able to visit the same doctor for the majority of their appointments.
Many health experts have stressed the importance of providing continued care for patients in the past.
"We want to ensure that everyone has access to GP services, including routine appointments at evenings and weekends - and millions of patients have already benefited from this," a spokesperson from the Department of Health and Social Care stated.
The spokesperson continued that to ensure patients have access to their doctors, the department is looking to invest $2.4 billion dollars into general practice by the year 2021 and recruit more doctors.
The study was published in the journal BMJ Open.