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Editorial
Jan 23, 2012

How Can We Know So Little About Physician Referrals?

Author Affiliations

Author Affiliation: Los Angeles County Department of Health Services, Los Angeles, California.

Arch Intern Med. 2012;172(2):100. doi:10.1001/archinternmed.2011.1290

In this issue of the Archives, Barnett et al1 demonstrate that between 1999 and 2009, the probability of an ambulatory visit resulting in a referral to another physician almost doubled. Given concerns about the tremendous and seemingly unsustainable cost of American health care, as well as the increased risk of fragmented care with multiple physicians involved in the care of a given patient, these findings are troubling. But the real problem is that we have no idea what the data really mean.

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