Purpose. As hospital stays grow shorter, many patients are discharged to follow up with their primary care physicians before their diagnoses and responses to treatment are clear. The authors studied the value and feasibility of providing housestaff with follow-up information about their former inpatients. Method. Patients included in the study (1) had been admitted to the housestaff service during the study period (January to March 1997), (2) had received follow-up care from a primary care physician in the Johns Hopkins Bayview Physicians' Professional Association, and (3) had been hospitalized for at least three days. The primary care physician completed a single-page follow-up form four to six weeks after the patient's discharge from the hospital; that form was given to the house officers who had cared for that patient. Results. Responses to a preintervention questionnaire completed by 28 of 39 house officers (72%) showed that 92% felt it to be important or extremely important to get follow-up information about inpatients; 86% indicated that they rarely or never receive such information. During the study period, house officers were sent follow-up information for 65 of 76 eligible patients (85%). In their responses to a post-intervention questionnaire (response rate 73%), the house officers most valued learning about the accuracy of the discharge diagnosis, the results of additional diagnostic tests, and information about the patient's quality of life since discharge. Housestaff's satisfaction with the follow-up information received about inpatients improved (p = .001). Conclusions. Providing follow-up information was a feasible intervention that was valued by housestaff.
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