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Lack of primary and preventive care sends thousands to hospitals

Better access to primary health care and prevention programs could have kept thousands of California adults out of hospitals, according to a new statewide analysis.

According to new data released last week by the Office of Statewide Health Planning and Development, there were more than 335,000 adult hospitalizations in California that could have been avoided if the patient had seen a doctor sooner.

According to the state agency, so-called “preventable hospitalizations” are an indication of systemic shortcomings related to access to quality primary care.

“These are people going into the hospital that probably shouldn’t be if they were getting good primary care up front,” said Michael Kassis, a research specialist with the office.

Poor environmental factors and a failure to follow medical treatment also could prompt these avoidable hospital stays, the agency said.

 

The latest figures are based on an analysis of 2009 hospital inpatient discharges by state-licensed facilities of 13 “prevention quality indicators,” or readily treatable medical conditions such as chest pains and dehydration.

There’s been a slight uptick in preventable hospitalizations in California since 2008, when there were 317,050 cases. In 1999, there were 399,113 cases. 

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