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Med J Aust. 2007 Jul 16;187(2):88-91.

General practitioner consultations at residential aged-care facilities.

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  • 1Australian GP Statistics and Classification Centre, University of Sydney, Sydney, NSW, Australia.



To describe the patients seen and the clinical activity undertaken by general practitioners during encounters at residential aged-care facilities (RACFs), and to ascertain how these differ from all GP encounters in Australia as a whole.


A secondary analysis of encounter data from the Bettering the Evaluation and Care of Health (BEACH) study, April 2004 to March 2006, comparing RACF consultations (identified by Medicare item numbers) with all BEACH study encounters in Australia. Participants were a random sample of GPs who had claimed at least 375 general practice Medicare items in the 3 months prior to the study.


Differences in the characteristics of GPs and patients at RACF consultations, morbidities managed, and treatments provided to patients.


Over the study period there were 2310 RACF encounters out of a total of 197 000 BEACH encounters; 360/1970 GPs (18.4%) recorded at least one RACF consultation. GPs aged > or = 45 years were more likely to record at least one RACF consultation than those aged < 45 years. Patients were predominantly women (70.7%), and 83.4% were aged > or = 75 years. At RACF consultations, problems managed significantly more often included chronic problems, as well as psychological, neurological, urological, circulatory, eye and musculoskeletal problems. Dementia was the most common problem managed, at 33 times the usual management rate in everyday practice. Significantly fewer medications, non-pharmacological treatments, referrals, pathology and imaging tests were recorded at RACF consultations.


GP encounters at RACFs involve the management of chronic and complex conditions, including some not frequently seen in everyday general practice. The provision of additional education and resources where required may assist with workforce shortages in this setting.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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