A new Canadian report suggests more than 118,000 emergency room visits could be avoided each year if more people in Ontario with chronic diseases had a family doctor.
The report from the Institute for Clinical Evaluative Sciences also observed that more than 17,000 hospital admissions each year were chronic disease patients without a doctor who was monitoring their health over a period of time.
"We have identified groups of people without family doctors and those who are having problems accessing the health care system. This is leading to serious consequences in the form of additional emergency visits and hospital admissions that could have been avoided," said Dr. Rick Glazier, a senior scientist at the institute.
The institute is an independent, non-profit organization that conducts research that contributes to health-care policy in Ontario.
According to the Ontario Medical Association (OMA) 95 per cent of patients with chronic diseases have a family doctor.
The OMA says approximately 850,000 people in the province don't have access to a family doctor.
The study revealed that 15 per cent of those with chronic conditions received little to no continuous primary care by a family doctor.† People with depression were less likely to have a regular medical†doctor, according to the study.
"The lack of access to a family doctor, especially for those with chronic diseases, negatively impacts the quality of life of patients and places unnecessary stress on our hospitals and emergency rooms," said Dr. Ken Arnold, president of the Ontario Medical Association.††