Copying letters to patients

BMJ 2003; 326 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.326.7386.449 (Published 22 February 2003) Cite this as: BMJ 2003;326:449

Psychiatrists omit information from letters when they know patients will be sent copies

  1. Graham K Murray, research associate (gm285@cam.ac.uk),
  2. Harpal Nandhra, specialist registrar, psychiatry,
  3. Nigel Hymas, consultant psychiatrist,
  4. Neil Hunt, consultant psychiatrist
  1. Department of Psychiatry, University of Cambridge, Box 189, Addenbrooke's Hospital, Cambridge CB2 2QQ
  2. Fair Mile Hospital, Wallingford, Oxon OX10 9HH
  3. Box 179, Addenbrooke's Hospital
  4. Fulbourn Hospital, Cambridge CB1 5EF
  5. Lytchett Matravers, Poole, Dorset BH16 6BG

    EDITOR—From April 2004 patients will receive copies of all correspondence between clinicians working in the NHS as a matter of course. 1 2 Previous research supports the view reported in Eaton's news item that patients appreciate this practice35; however, the way its national introduction will affect doctors' work is much less clear. We audited how psychiatrists' practice is affected when letters are to be copied to patients.

    All 76 new patients who attended two general psychiatry outpatient clinics (one rural, one inner city) from January 2002 to July 2002 were included in the pilot study, as were all eight psychiatrists who worked in these clinics during this time. After the assessment patients were sent a copy of the psychiatrist's letter to the general practitioner and asked to complete a short questionnaire on their evaluation of the letter. …

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