Variation among hospitals in the continuity of care for older hospitalized patients: a cross-sectional cohort study

James S. Goodwin, Shuang Li, Jie Zhou, Yong Fang Kuo, Ann Nattinger

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: Little is known about how continuity of care for hospitalized patients varies among hospitals. We describe the number of different general internal medicine physicians seeing hospitalized patients during a medical admission and how that varies by hospital. Methods: We conducted a retrospective study of a national 20% sample of Medicare inpatients from 01/01/16 to 12/31/18. In patients with routine medical admissions (length of stay of 3–6 days, no Intensive Care Unit stay, and seen by only one generalist per day), we assessed odds of receiving all generalist care from one generalist. We calculated rates for each hospital, adjusting for patient and hospital characteristics in a multi-level logistic regression model. Results: Among routine medical admissions with 3- to 6-day stays, only 43.1% received all their generalist care from the same physician. In those with a 3-day stay, 50.1% had one generalist providing care vs. 30.8% in those with a 6-day stay. In a two-level (admission and hospital) logistic regression model controlling for patient characteristics and length of stay, the odds of seeing just one generalist did not vary greatly by patient characteristics such as age, race/ethnicity, comorbidity or reason for admission. There were large variations in continuity of care among different hospitals and geographic areas. In the highest decile of hospitals, the adjusted mean percentage of patients receiving all generalist care from one physician was > 84.1%, vs. < 24.1% in the lowest decile. This large degree of variation persisted when hospitals were stratified by size, ownership, location or teaching status. Conclusions: Continuity of care provided by generalist physicians to medical inpatients varies widely among hospitals. The impact of this variation on quality of care is unknown.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number552
JournalBMC Health Services Research
Issue number1
StatePublished - Dec 2021


  • Continuity of care
  • Hospital admission
  • Hospitalist
  • Medicare

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Health Policy


Dive into the research topics of 'Variation among hospitals in the continuity of care for older hospitalized patients: a cross-sectional cohort study'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this