So that’s it then. New Year rung in in suitable style at Jest Acres after trip to the Panto, New Years Eve banquet in the great hall to follow, concluding with the now traditional sybaritic orgy that is the chocolate fountain, and Jools on the telly in the other room Hootenannying for all he was worth. All in all it went rather well, though the return to a duty surgery on Friday the 2nd was a suitably sobering return to earth.
Still the New Year is off to a suitably surreal start, that if nothing else shows the perils of “copy and paste” correspondence. For a long time there have been parallel moans in U.K. health services. The hospitals moan that GP letters are often a bit sketchy, frequently penned in haste at the bedside as they are, and so are inclined to leave out essential titbits, such as the patients inside leg measurement and so forth. In turn GPs have moaned that the discharge letters thrust into the hand of homecoming patients tend to lack vital, or at least legible, information on trivia like diagnosis, treatment and follow up arrangements. This has, to my knowledge been a settled and steady state for at least three decades. I suspect even poor old Hippocrates had young whipper snappers moaning about the appalling state of the handwriting in his wax tablets down at the Kos DGH.
But over the past three or four years we have moved to printing a lot of the more relevant patient data onto an encounter sheet to attach to our urgent referral letters, and the hospitals have moved to IT generated discharge summaries which are way better than the pro-formas of yesteryear. The problem comes when these IT generated documents are pre-formatted for routine entries of common data, and not edited for those that do not apply, as happened today. Or at least I very much hope that that was the case. Otherwise we have a patient who died in hospital, but was found to have a normal temperature, blood pressure and respiratory rate on discharge from the ward to the mortuary…..
Must go now, it’s dark and there’s a strange tapping sound at the window.
Is there anybody there………….?