When it comes to patient safety, ‘too busy’ is no excuse.

The Advertiser in Adelaide recently drew attention to lengthy delays in correspondence between some hospital outpatient clinics and referring GPs and in some cases, no correspondence at all! The newspaper obtained a copy of a letter sent by one Royal Adelaide Hospital outpatient clinic to a GP saying it was too busy to send patient test results and in fact, had not done this practice in many years.[1]

The mind boggles, really.

How could such a practice be thought acceptable in this day and age? The age of the internet and technology allows written communication to be sent and received so swiftly.

Why is communication back to the person who referred your patient not considered a priority? Or even necessary at all?

Research is this area overwhelmingly concludes that when the right information is not available to the right person at the right time, patient safety may be compromised.[2]

It doesn’t matter how big or small your organisation.  It doesn’t matter how many or few patients you see.  Those patients are entitled to have the details of their consultation communicated between their treating care providers – between their GP and their specialist.

Make no mistake – medical specialists are busy people! They are often surrounded by practice managers and administrative staff who are also busy with the important work of patients – face-to-face and over the phone, and it is constant.  Timely correspondence back to GPs and referrers can often get pushed down the list of priorities or it can often be put onto the plate of staff who are already snowed under.

This is where Sound Medical Typing can be instrumental.  We have deliberately organised our business to offer a particular service to a particular clientele – we specialise in clinic letters dictated by medical specialists to referrers or GPs.  We are in the business of fast turnaround of these clinic letters to ensure that timely communication occurs between specialist and GP and in this process, we play a role in ensuring that patient safety is not compromised by any delays in communication.

Please don’t make ‘too busy’ your excuse – we are here to help!


[1] Crouch, B 2017, ‘People waiting more than five years for outpatient appointments, one clinic too busy to send results of patient care’, The Advertiser 12 November, viewed 13 November 2017 http://www.adelaidenow.com.au/news/south-australia/people-waiting-more-than-five-years-for-outpatient-appointments-one-clinic-too-busy-to-send-results-of-patient-care/news-story/eb1963c44a0c228d4ac0d2b86c41a5f1

[2] Vermeir, P, Vandijck, D, Degroote, S, Peleman, R, Verhaeghe, R, Mortier, E, Hallaert, G, Van Daele, S, Buylaert, W & Vogelaers, D 2015, ‘Communication in healthcare: a narrative review of the literature and practical recommendations’, International Journal of Clinical Practice, vol. 69, no. 11, pp.1257-1267.

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