Letters Importance of patients’ preferences

Time for a “patient’s page” in hospital notes

BMJ 2012; 345 doi: http://dx.doi.org/10.1136/bmj.e8556 (Published 21 December 2012) Cite this as: BMJ 2012;345:e8556

Re: Time for a “patient’s page” in hospital notes

Parents whose newborn babies are in neonatal Intensive Care unit (NICU) can find it difficult to remember what has been said to them by NICU doctors (1). We have been devising, evaluating and implementing different approaches to improve communication between doctors and parents of babies in NICU (2). We therefore read with interest the proposal for a patient's page in hospital notes (3).

For the last 18 months one of us has devised and been using a "medical officer & parents communication record" (a copy of the form is attached)in a regional NICU (12 ventilator cots, 22 special care cots) which serves North Queensland, an area one and the half time the size of France. The purpose of the record is to document important salient points covered during discussions between parents of NICU babies and doctors (with dates, time, the names of people involved. The record is kept in a blue folder by the baby's cotside which is accessible to the parents and to all staff, the later to ensure smooth flow of information amongst staff who do shift works. We inform parents that we welcome them to write down any questions with date and time in the same record so that doctors can answer any questions. In the last 18 months only 3 parents have written some questions in the record. We are currently doing a prospective evaluation of the use, impressions of parents of babies in NICU on such an aid to improve communication between doctors and parents in NICU.

Yours sincerely,

Dr THHG Koh, neonatologist, Townsville Hospital
M-I Koh, 5th year medical student, James Cook University

QLD 4814

1)Harrison H. The Principles for Family-Centered Neonatal Care.The principles of family-centered neonatal care. Pediatrics 1993;92: 643-650.

2)THHG Koh, Butow PN, Coory M et al.Provision of taped conversations with neonatologists to mothers of babies in intensive care: randomised controlled trial.
BMJ 2007;334:28

3) Maxmin J. Time for a “patient’s page” in hospital notes.BMJ 2012;345:e8556

Competing interests: No competing interests
25 December 2012
Tieh Hee Hai Guan KOH
neonatologist
Ms Mai-Ing Koh
The Townsville Hospital
NICU, The Townsville Hospital
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