Knowing our patients: it’s all in the detailBMJ 2019; 366 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.l4553 (Published 08 July 2019) Cite this as: BMJ 2019;366:l4553
- Jonathan Glass, consultant urologist
- Guy’s and St Thomas’ NHS Foundation Trust, UK
Follow Jonathan on Twitter @JMG_urology
I have a bit of a reputation in my department for the letters I write. After initial consultations, I’ve written in correspondence that the patient I’ve just met was a Typhoo tea taster, a Venetian fur trader, a waste collector, or a consultant gynaecologist. Letters generated from follow-up appointments have stated that a patient is going to cruise the Mediterranean, celebrate their 80th birthday at Brands Hatch, or—as in a letter I saw today which I had written last year—that the summer was too dry for the patient’s bees so the honey yield was going to be low.
I have, at times, taken a bit of stick from my colleagues for adding these “unnecessary” details into my correspondence. Why does the referring general practitioner or hospital consultant need to know what a patient does or what they’re up to? Surely, a letter from a surgical specialist need only contain information about the changes made to medication, any plans for surgery, or the conditions for discharge or re-referral.
My problem …