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Medical Practice

Who undertakes the consultations in the outpatient department?

Br Med J (Clin Res Ed) 1988; 296 doi: (Published 28 May 1988) Cite this as: Br Med J (Clin Res Ed) 1988;296:1511
  1. R S Kiff,
  2. P A Sykes


    In a study of all 4275 outpatient consultations over one month in a district general hospital it was found that the clinics in surgical specialties had the largest numbers of patients. In general surgery less than half of new patients and only one third of all patients attending the clinic were seen by a consultant. (Nine months later about a third of all new patients had still not seen a consultant in the clinic.) In the medical clinics just over a quarter of patients were seen by doctors who had less than six months' experience in their present specialty after registration. Overall, doctors had been on continuous duty for at least 24 hours before a third of consultations. Doctors in training had actually worked during the previous night before attending a quarter of the clinics.

    Much of the large volume of work is performed by tired, incompletely trained doctors. It is suggested that a greater proportion of the work should be performed by fully trained staff. The workload might be reduced by modifying the pattern of the consultation.

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