One way for recently discharged heart failure patients to boost their survival odds is to see a doctor within the first month after leaving the hospital, a new study finds.
And the survival advantage is higher among patients who see their regular doctor rather than an unfamiliar one, according to the report in the Aug. 19 issue of the CMAJ (Canadian Medical Association Journal).
The researchers looked at data on more than 24,000 heart failure patients aged 20 and older who had been discharged from hospitals in Alberta, Canada. Of those patients, 22% did not see a doctor within the first month, 69% saw their regular doctor, and 9% saw an unfamiliar doctor.
Patients who saw a doctor within a month of being discharged from hospital were 3-8% less likely to die or be readmitted to the hospital within three months to one year than those who did not see a doctor, according to Dr. Finlay McAlister, of the University of Alberta, Edmonton.
The investigators also found that patients who saw their regular doctor had a significantly lower risk of death or hospital readmission than those who saw an unfamiliar doctor.
The findings show “that physicians should strive to optimize continuity with their heart failure patients after discharge, and that strategies are needed in the health care system to ensure early follow-up after discharge with the patient’s regular physician,” the study authors concluded.
It is a shame that the study didn’t calculate the effectiveness of specialist heart failure nurses. It still amazes the charity that there is still non parity of access to heart failure specialist nurses in the UK.