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Qual Saf Health Care. 2009 Feb;18(1):59-62. doi: 10.1136/qshc.2007.025486.

Audit of the consultation process on general internal medicine services.

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1
Centre for Health and Policy Studies, University of Calgary, Calgary, Alberta, Canada.

Abstract

OBJECTIVE:

To determine the proportion of consultations requested by general internal medicine services that communicate key components of the consultation process to medical subspecialists.

DESIGN:

Retrospective chart review by two researchers, using a standardised chart abstraction instrument (93.1% agreement, kappa 0.85).

SETTING:

Calgary, Alberta, Canada.

SAMPLE:

A random sample of medical consultations was selected from those generated on two medical teaching units (MTUs) from 2003 to 2004.

MEASUREMENTS:

The primary measure of interest was whether a "clear clinical question" was posed to the subspecialist, a binary variable.

RESULTS:

Two hundred consultations were sampled from the 2885 subspecialty consultations. Of the selected consultations, 94.0% (188/200) were available for review. A clear clinical question was posed in 69.7% (131/188) of consultations (CI 0.63 to 0.74). In a secondary analysis involving a larger sample permitting comparison across subspecialties, 95.1% (368/387) of the consultations, representative of the subspecialties, were available for review. An MTU member contacted the subspecialist for 74.2% of consultations. If a consultation was urgent, a member of the MTU contacted the subspecialist in 81.0% of consultations. Of these urgent consultations, 63.3% had a clear clinical question.

CONCLUSION:

More than one in four consultations does not contain a clear clinical question, illustrating suboptimal communication between physicians. Innovative strategies that provide a sustainable solution for overcoming barriers to communication could have a significant impact on quality of care.

PMID:
19204134
DOI:
10.1136/qshc.2007.025486
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
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