When GPs are under time pressure, it may be easy to correct omissions such as missed referrals without stopping to consider how it happened and what can be done to prevent a similar incident in the future. Dr Rachel Birch, Medicolegal Consultant at Medical Protection, discusses this in more detail and provides practical advice on how locum GPs are well placed to help improve patient safety.
As doctors, we will all be familiar with the concept of “firefighting”— that busy day when there seems so much to do that we just put our heads down and work through it. Perhaps a couple of extra patients at the end of a surgery, or an urgent home visit in the middle, a telephone call from a consultant, or it may just be that we are running behind schedule due to a patient needing more time in their appointment.
Picture the scene— mid-morning, you review a 60 year old male patient who asks when he will hear from the hospital. Looking through his notes you can see that he attended the senior partner last week with a new onset of rectal bleeding. The red flag referral does not appear to have been done. You explain this and reassure him that you will make the referral now. The patient is happy with your plan.