Eldercare facility residents given same-day access to a physician have lower hospitalization rates and emergency department visits than those who face longer wait times.

That’s according to investigators who surveyed long-term care facilities about physician visits during a three-month period. About 32% of the facilities, located in Ontario, Canada, reported same-day physician access. These facilities had 21% lower hospitalization rates and 14% lower ED visit rates, reported Daniel M. Kobewka, M.D., MSc.

Nurse practitioner availability was also independently linked to fewer transfers. Yet 60% of facilities without same-day physician access also had no same-day access to nurse practitioners, wrote Kobewka, from the Ottawa Hospital Research Institute, Canada.

The researchers suggest that many transfers could be prevented if all facilities had urgent access to clinical care.

The study was published in the April issue of JAMDA.