Any general practitioner (GP) from Land’s End to John O’Groats will likely read ‘GP F/U’ at least couple of times per day in the hope they can learn what exactly a hospital doctor has done for one of their patients.
Unfortunately more often than not the information written down is inadequate or just does not make any sense. It seems that despite their level of education, doctors find the concept of grammatical sense and useful information quite alien.
I cannot enitrely blame doctors for being careless when writing discharge summaries – there may be numerous reasons why it is poorly written, e.g. the doctor does not know the patient and is writing it from the notes (a common method in hospitals due to high turnover of patients and variable rotas of doctors). Perhaps the person writing the summary is unsure what to write but is being rushed to write one or the person writing the summary does not have English as their first language and does not know the nuances of writing an adequate summary.
Having just done a Paediatric job where we had a very high turnover of patients each day, writing the discharge summary quickly was preferable so the department could get paid.
But as I knew I was about to start a GP post, I felt it was my duty to write a bit more than ‘LRTI’ for a child that was under our care for a few weeks, but at the same time writing concisely for a child with a ‘viral wheeze’ that went home the same day after a few puffs of salbutamol.
The other issue of simply writing ‘GP F/U’ as default is what does the hospital expect the GP to do. I must admit that I have been the culprit of writing this phrase in the past when I did my medical jobs thus leaving the GP with no real idea of what the follow up is supposed to be.
I suspect I wasn’t thinking what the role of the GP was in the care of the patient after they left the hospital. Hopefully by the time I finish my GPST training in August 2013, I will avoid getting too irate with poorly-written discharge summaries from my local hospital.
Dr Avradeep Chakrabarti is an ST2 from Swindon
Avradeep Chakrabarti, Julie Fry and Martin Wicks are Pulse’s latest class of GP registrar bloggers. If you or your registars would like to join the blogging team email email@example.com.