The Finnmark general practitioner hospital study. Patient characteristics, patient flow and alternative care level

Scand J Prim Health Care. 1995 Dec;13(4):250-6. doi: 10.3109/02813439508996771.


Objectives: In a study assessing the role of general practitioner hospitals (GPHs) in the health service two main questions were addressed: 1) Are general practitioner beds used for short-term medical observations, or as a supplement for long-term geriatric care? 2) What are the alternatives to stays in GPHs?

Design: In a prospective design GPH stays during 8 weeks were recorded.

Setting: 15 GPH units in Finnmark county in Norway.

Subjects: 395 completed stays were recorded.

Main outcome measures: The patients' sex, age and diagnosis, flow of patients, length of stays, bed occupancy rate, and doctors' assessments of alternative level of care.

Results: 60% of the patients were admitted from and discharged to their home after a mean stay of 6.8 days. The 19% who were transferred to higher level hospitals stayed significantly shorter than the rest (3.6 days), while 9% transferred from hospital stayed significantly longer (22.3 days). Of the 395 patients discharged 61% were assessed as candidates for higher level hospitals, if GPHs did not exist. 45% of the GPH stays seem to replace higher level hospital admissions.

Conclusion: The GPHs have a pre-hospital "buffer" function by preventing patients with acute symptoms from being unnecessarily admitted to general hospitals through short-term observation stays. A post-hospital function was also demonstrated, since GPHs allow for long-term follow up stays for patients transferred from general hospitals.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Family Practice / statistics & numerical data*
  • Female
  • Hospitalization / statistics & numerical data*
  • Hospitals, Group Practice / statistics & numerical data*
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Length of Stay
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Norway
  • Patient Transfer
  • Practice Patterns, Physicians'
  • Prospective Studies
  • Referral and Consultation / statistics & numerical data
  • Rural Health
  • Utilization Review