It is well established that patients with mental illness are known to have a high level of morbidity and mortality compared to the general population. This is particularly prominent in long-stay psychiatric patients, such as those in secure settings. The Royal College of Psychiatrists recommends that psychiatrists should promote the physical health of their patients and liaise with other specialties. However, there is evidence that communication between psychiatry and other specialties is poor.
A survey was carried out at the North London Forensic Service in June 2014. This looked at the views of clinical staff about the frequency and quality of feedback obtained when inpatients attend outpatient hospital appointments at local general hospitals. This survey highlighted the general perception among staff that feedback is poor, with 68.43% of respondents saying that they were “very unsatisfied” or “unsatisfied” with the level and quality of feedback. Clinical staff felt that many patients who attended hospital outpatient appointments, even when escorted by staff, returned with little or no feedback. This was confirmed by a baseline audit across 3 wards showing that details of the appointment (date, time, hospital, and specialty) were only documented in 54.5% of cases and the content of the appointment documented in even fewer cases.
A form was designed by junior doctors that provided a simple framework of 6 questions to be answered at the outpatient clinic about the problem, diagnosis, and further actions needed. This was introduced and its impact assessed with a 3-month and 6-month audit of electronic notes, as well as a follow-up survey after 6 months. The audit showed significant improvement in the quality of feedback about the appointment at both the 3-month and 6-month point. The follow-up survey showed that 70% of respondents were aware of the form and 100% of those who were aware of the form had used it at least once and found it helpful. The general satisfaction level improved, but remained low, with 40% of respondents saying that they were “very unsatisfied” or “unsatisfied” with the level and quality of feedback.
This QIP shows that the outpatient appointment form is a useful and effective tool when staff know about it and use it. We plan to look at the barriers to using the form and consider future solutions to the need for increased engagement with nursing staff stakeholders in future PDSA cycles.
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Supplementary Material for Improving feedback from outpatient medical appointments attended by escorted psychiatric patients in the North London Forensic Service
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