Continuity of GP care after the last hospitalization for patients who died from cancer, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease or heart failure: a retrospective cohort study using administrative data

Annicka G. M. van der Plas, Mariska G. Oosterveld-Vlug, H. Roeline Pasman, Bart Schweitzer, Bregje D. Onwuteaka-Philipsen

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BACKGROUND: Discharge from hospital to home can be a stressful experience for patients and carers. Contact with the GP is important to ensure continuity of care. OBJECTIVES: To investigate timing of contact with the GP and locum after the last hospitalization in the last year of life and to investigate patient and care characteristics related to contact with the GP within 2 days after discharge. METHODS: Health insurance data were combined with data from Statistics Netherlands on patients who mainly received care at home in the last 4 months of life. Patients who died from cancer (n = 3014), chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD, n = 195) or heart failure (n = 171) were compared. RESULTS: First contact after hospital discharge was within 2 days for 51.7% of patients and within a week for 77.8% of patients. Patients who died from COPD or heart failure had contact less often than patients with cancer. Characteristics related to having contact within 2 days after discharge were older age, cause of death cancer, home death, timing of last hospitalization closer to death and contact with a locum in the week after discharge. CONCLUSION: Results may indicate that the GP is likely to visit patients with more care needs sooner. This would be in accordance with the finding that contact with the GP was more likely after a hospitalization closer to death and that contact within 2 days was related to contact with a locum within a week after discharge. Proactive care is necessary. This is a joint responsibility of GPs and medical specialists.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)304-309
JournalFamily Practice
Issue number3
Early online date30 Jun 2018
Publication statusPublished - 2019


  • Continuity of patient care
  • end of life care
  • palliative care
  • primary care physician
  • retrospective study
  • transitional care

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