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BMJ Open. 2012; 2(5): e001298.
Published online 2012 September 13. doi:  10.1136/bmjopen-2012-001298
PMCID: PMC3467639

A metric-based analysis of structure and content of telephone consultations of final-year medical students in a high-fidelity emergency medicine simulation

Abstract

Objectives

In this study we aimed to analyse the structure and content of telephone consultations of final-year medical students in a high-fidelity emergency medicine simulation. The purpose was to identify any areas of deficiency within structure and content in the effective transfer of clinical information via the telephone of final-year medical students.

Design

An educational study.

Setting

Simulation centre in a medical school.

Participants

113 final-year medical students.

Primary and secondary outcomes

The primary outcome was to analyse the structure and content of telephone consultations of final-year medical students in a high-fidelity emergency medicine simulation. The secondary outcome was to identify any areas of deficiency within structure and content in the effective transfer of clinical information via the telephone of final-year medical students.

Results

During phone calls to a senior colleague 30% of students did not positively identify themselves, 29% did not identify their role, 32% did not positively identify the recipient of the phone call, 59% failed to positively identify the patient, 49% did not read back the recommendations of their senior colleague and 97% did not write down the recommendations of their senior colleague.

Conclusions

We identified a deficiency in our students skills to communicate relevant information via the telephone, particularly failure to repeat back and write down instructions. We suggest that this reflects a paucity of opportunities to practice this skill in context during the undergraduate years. The assumption that this skill will be acquired following qualification constitutes a latent error within the healthcare system. The function of undergraduate medical education is to produce graduates who are fit for purpose at the point of graduation.

Keywords: Medical Education & Training, Communication, Simulation, Patient Safety

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