Objective: To evaluate adherence to an agreed minimum dataset for patient medication information exchange between hospitals and general practitioners.
Design: Quasi pre–post design with a supplementary post-program comparison group; sequential descriptive surveys of patients following recent discharge from public hospitals; opinion questionnaire for key hospital informants; stakeholder forum to review data and Quality Use of Medicines (QUM) action plans between pre- and post-program surveys.
Participants and setting: GPs and hospitals from the South East Area Health Service, Sydney. During 2000–2001, 81/124 GPs (65%) returned 147 patient questionnaires in initial follow-up; 88/119 GPs (74%) returned 131 questionnaires in final follow-up; a supplementary group of 54/120 GPs (45%) returned 66 questionnaires; 32/45 (71%) of nominated key informants responded to the hospital survey.
Results: Direct notification of GPs by hospitals of their patient's admission was unchanged from the initial level of 22%. The proportion of GPs providing medication information to the hospital increased from 38% to 51% at Stage 2 (P < 0.05) and remained at 52% at Stage 3. The proportion of GPs receiving discharge summaries directly (initially 2%) increased to 26% at Stage 2 (P < 0.001) and remained at 27% at Stage 3.
Conclusions: System change is slow to occur, but changes that are implemented are maintained. The stakeholder forum suggested that a specific person should be responsible for GP liaison.
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