Internal medicine consultation.

Natália C Marto, Carmen Marques, Júlio C Almeida, João Sá


The Internal Medicine consultation plays an important part in the activity of the Medicine Department. This activity is seldom quantified and is usually underestimated. In order to assess the work load represented by this service, the authors designed a prospective study to quantify and analyse the characteristics of the 556 consecutive consultations performed during 12 months. Over half the requests for observation were received after 4 p.m. and 18% were requested urgently; 96,8% were answered on the same day. Of the consultations, 33% came from the Orthopaedics and Trauma Department, 18% from the General Surgery Department and 17% from the Surgical Intermediate Care Unit. Cardio-vascular, infectious and neurological pathology accounted for most of the calls. During the regular working hours, there was'nt a direct contact with the patient's physician in 54% of the consultations. This activity represents an important additional work load to the Internist, with increasing relevance in the improvement of medical care. Our results highlight the need to establish a general medicine consultation service in every Internal Medicine Department and to include this activity in future educational programs.

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