• Study
  • Published December 2008

Patients' perceptions of safety if interpersonal continuity of care were to be disrupted.

Discontinuity is an unfortunate but inevitable reality of medical care, as no clinician can be available around the clock. This study surveyed geriatric patients to examine patients' perceptions of discontinuity in the outpatient setting. Although a relatively small proportion of patients reported that they would feel unsafe if seeing someone other than their primary physician, those who did report concerns tended to have more complex medical problems. This feeling may be well founded, as a recent study documented that communication between providers caring for the same patient is often poor. The safety effects of discontinuity have been most studied in the hospital, and strategies have been developed to improve the transmission of information between inpatient providers.

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