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Primary care physician volume and quality of care for older adults with dementia: a retrospective cohort study

Lane NE, Ling V, Glazier RH, Stukel TA. BMC Fam Pract. 2021; 22(1):51. Epub 2021 Mar 9. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1186/s12875-021-01398-9


Background — Some jurisdictions restrict primary care physicians' daily patient volume to safeguard quality of care for complex patients. Our objective was to determine whether people with dementia receive lower-quality care if their primary care physician sees many patients daily.

Methods — Population-based retrospective cohort study using health administrative data from 100,256 community-living adults with dementia aged 66 years or older, and the 8,368 primary care physicians who cared for them in Ontario, Canada. Multivariable Poisson GEE regression models tested whether physicians' daily patient volume was associated with the adjusted likelihood of people with dementia receiving vaccinations, prescriptions for cholinesterase inhibitors, benzodiazepines, and antipsychotics from their primary care physician.

Results — People with dementia whose primary care physicians saw ≥ 30 patients daily were 32% (95% CI: 23% to 41%, p < 0.0001) and 25% (95% CI: 17% to 33%, p < 0.0001) more likely to be prescribed benzodiazepines and antipsychotic medications, respectively, than patients of primary care physicians who saw < 20 patients daily. Patients were 3% (95% CI: 0.4% to 6%, p = 0.02) less likely to receive influenza vaccination and 8% (95% CI: 4% to 13%, p = 0.0001) more likely to be prescribed cholinesterase inhibitors if their primary care physician saw ≥ 30 versus < 20 patients daily.

Conclusions — People with dementia were more likely to receive both potentially harmful and potentially beneficial medications, and slightly less likely to be vaccinated by high-volume primary care physicians.

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