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Logo of jroyalcgpracBJGP at RCGPBJGP at PubMed CentralJ R Coll Gen Pract at PubMed CentralRCGP homepage
J R Coll Gen Pract. 1987 November; 37(304): 496–497.
PMCID: PMC1711110

Notifying general practitioners about deaths in hospital: an audit


Information from hospital doctors about the death of a patient in hospital is important to general practitioners. Six general practices in the Dundee district recorded the date and place of death for all 272 practice patients dying over a 14-month period. In the 193 cases (71%) for which the hospital was responsible for informing the practice of the death the method by which the practice first learned of the death and the time interval between death and the writing of the official hospital letter was also recorded. An immediate telephone call, the established method of informing practices of deaths occurring in hospital took place in only 58% of cases and the letter from hospital was sent within one week in only 49% of cases. These proportions were unaltered by the issue of a unit medical circular to hospital staff informing them of the problem and requesting more prompt notification.

The ability of general practitioners to help bereaved relatives is compromised by the present inadequacies in communication between hospitals and general practice. The unit medical circular – the standard method of resolving interprofessional problems – would appear to be ineffective.

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Selected References

These references are in PubMed. This may not be the complete list of references from this article.
  • Long A, Atkins JB. Communications between general practitioners and consultants. Br Med J. 1974 Nov 23;4(5942):456–459. [PMC free article] [PubMed]
  • Mageean RJ. Study of "discharge communications" from hospital. Br Med J (Clin Res Ed) 1986 Nov 15;293(6557):1283–1284. [PMC free article] [PubMed]
  • Todd A, Hayes PC, Bouchier IAD. Letters from general practitioners to hospitals. Br Med J (Clin Res Ed) 1984 Aug 25;289(6443):d497–498. [PMC free article]
  • Balfour AJ. Why not inform the hospital? J R Coll Gen Pract. 1985 Aug;35(277):a401–401. [PMC free article]
  • Coupland B. Deaths — why inform just the hospital? J R Coll Gen Pract. 1986 Feb;36(283):83–84. [PMC free article]

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