Saturday 21 April 2018

One in seven hospital discharge letters from A&E doctors to GPs are 'illegible'

Photo: PA
Photo: PA
Eilish O'Regan

Eilish O'Regan

One in seven discharge letters written by emergency department doctors to patients' GPs were not fully legible, according to a new study.

The snapshot of 100 letters, written by doctors after treating the patients in St Vincent's Hospital in Dublin, found many suffered from bad handwriting, or were poor quality carbon copies where there was overlapping writing.

Information which could be of use to the GP, such as details about medication or the results of investigations, was missing in some cases, the research carried out by Ealga Beary, a TCD GP trainee and Navin Ramphul, an emergency consultant, showed.

All of the letters were dated and had patients' personal details as well as the complaint which caused them to attend the hospital but important elements were not included.

"General practitioners are not receiving correspondence for all patients they refer to the emergency department," they pointed out.

Other details which were missing included follow-up plans for the patients, the study in 'Forum', the journal of the Irish College of General practitioners revealed.

The researchers pointed out that previous studies have shown just 68pc of patients discharged from emergency departments had a discharge letter for their GP completed. These letters are important because they ensure continuity of care for the patients.

"This is of particular importance when the GP has referred the patient to the emergency department for assessment," the study added.

Irish Independent

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