domingo, 11 de enero de 2009

Information Exchange among Physicians caring for the same patient in the community – Information for Patients

Key points:

- During his/her lifetime, a person needs to see several different physicians. Ideally, it should be the person's family physician to coordinate all the health care needs of a patient, but in reality, and for several reasons, that's what ends up not happening. However, the family physician responsibilities of coordination and management of health care require an efficient transmission of clinical information (whether written or oral, but more often it is written), which is not always carried out properly. For instance, hospital physicians not always end up sending clinical information to the patient's family physician regarding an admission in the ward, in the Emergency Department, or an outpatient consultation in the hospital. Don't forget your family physician is responsible for the management of your health care needs.

- Several studies show that a regular follow-up of the patient by the same doctor or doctors is more beneficial in terms of health care outcomes. Partly, that follow up has to do with the transmission of clinical information between the several doctors that end up following up the same patient. The lack of transmission of clinical information makes the patient receive fragmented health care, which only generates frustration in both the patient and the physician. This article showed that even in countries with highly developed health systems, the transmission of clinical information between different physicians was not very good.

- If your family physician refers you to a hospital consultation with a specialist, make sure that the hospital physician replies to the referral letter sent by your family physician. Also ask him to do it if you see he/she will not do it naturally. This study showed that family physicians and the patient's regular physician are more likely to receive clinical information from other physicians.

- Every time you go see a different physician, regardless of whether you were referred or you came by your own initiative, it is important that you carry with you medical reports or clinical information notes, so that your doctor has as much clinical information as possible about you. This article showed that family physicians or the patient's regular physician are less likely to pass on clinical information about their patients to other doctors. Don't hesitate to ask your family physician for this information, if this isn't given to you, or if your doctor does not perform an electronic referral.

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