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BMC Family Practice

, 9:55

First Online: 30 September 2008Received: 14 May 2008Accepted: 30 September 2008


BackgroundPatients in hospital can develop complaints unrelated to the condition they are admitted for. The treating specialist will then call upon a co-specialist who is specialized in the clinical picture associated with the new complaint. For such a complaint, the GP is usually the first contact, when the patient is not in hospital. Normally specialists only encounter patients GPs have selected for referral. The risk of the specialist overestimating the predictive value of -unselected- complaints and symptoms of a serious condition is high. This may lead to an overuse of diagnostic treatments. Such treatments weigh more heavily on the patient, cause inadequate use of hospital facilities and, as a consequence, generate higher costs.

Because of these considerations, we wished to investigate if there is a need for the GP as a consultant for new complaints during hospital admittance.

MethodThe files of a random sample of patients who had an interdisciplinary consultation during their stay in hospital were judged by an expertpanel whether the consultation fitted the expertise of a GP.

ResultsIn 28 out of 84 files the consultation fitted the expertise of a GP; most cases concerned a specific condition that is not part of the specialist-s expertise, most frequently dermatological problems. In a minority of cases the specialist is confronted with a clinical problem with symptoms of which the cause is not clear, for example fever.

ConclusionGenerally, the consultations concern serious, often very complex conditions, i.e. cases that should be assessed by a specialist. Nevertheless, the expert panel-s judgment of the interdisciplinary consultations shows that in more than half of the dermatological cases and in a limited number of consultations by a specialist of internal medicine and geriatrics the problems fit the GP-s expertise.

Given the morbidity in academic hospitals we suppose that the results of a similar study in a peripheral hospital might even show more perspective for a GP consultant. These results offer sufficient arguments to start a pilotstudy into the role of a GP consultant in hospital.

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Autor: J Mulder - KH Groenier - JH Dekker - AJ Berendsen - J Schuling


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