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Clinic letters revisited
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  • Published on:
    Clinic letters revisited-clinic letters demystified.
    • Frederick Schon, MD Croydon University Hospital
    • Other Contributors:
      • Damien Wren, MD
      • Ahmad Roumia, Biomedical Student

    We read the article “neuromythololgy” by Martin Turner and Phillip Smith ,” clinic letters revisited”1. We completely agree that the 2002 Department of Health directive that patients should be sent a copy of their clinic letters was ,” a major force in improving clinic letters”.
    The article however makes no mention of the 2018 advice2 from the Academy of Medical Royal Colleges entitled ,” please write to me”. It strongly recommends that most letters be addressed directly to the patient with a copy to the GP and that English fully comprehensible to patients is used and any technical language is explained. This approach avoids much of the discussion in the article of terms like ,”this pleasant gentleman”.

    We have both adopted this recommended approach since 2018. One of us starts letters,” thank you for coming this morning and explaining that you are a 43 year old garage mechanic and that you have suffered tingling in the right hand for 6 months”. The other starts,” your GP wrote to me that you have had tingling in your right hand for 6 months”.

    We have carried out a preliminary audit of patients, GPs, and hospital consultants attitude to this suggested change by showing them 2 similar letters one addressed to the GP and the other to the patient. GPs quite strongly favoured letters addressed to the patient saying they received far fewer requests to clarify what the hospital doctor meant. Patients were roughly evenly divided, whilst hospital consultants st...

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    Conflict of Interest:
    None declared.