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Longer GP consultations could help prevent cases where patient deterioration is missed, study finds

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Patients who had longer consultations with their GP were less likely to subsequently self-refer themselves to hospital due to a worsening of their condition, a study has found.

The study, which looked at factors associated with potentially missed acute deterioration, said this might be because GPs with more time to assess patients ‘are more likely to recognise deterioration and refer the patient for secondary care’.

A longer consultation might also allow GPs more time to provide advice, such as telling the patient to contact the practice again if their condition worsens, the British Journal of General Practice study found.

The researchers defined a potentially missed acute deterioration as a patient having a self-referred admission to hospital after being seen by a GP in the three days beforehand.

They found that 116,097 patients had contacted a GP three days before an emergency admission, with patients with sepsis or urinary tract infections more likely to self-refer.

GP appointment duration was associated with self-referral, with a five-minute increase in appointment time resulting in a 10% decrease on average in the odds of self-referred admissions.

Patients having a telephone consultation compared with face-to-face, previous health service use, and the presence of comorbidities were all also associated with self-referred admission, according to the research.

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Source: Management in Practice, 2 June 2021

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