Communication Failure in Primary Care: Failure of Consultants to Provide Follow-up Information

Richard O. Cummins, Robert W. Smith, Thomas S. Inui

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

83 Scopus citations


In a two-physician general practice within 80 km of two university medical centers, there were 4,367 patient visits in six months, from which 233 referrals (5.3%) were made to consultants. All referred patients were accompanied by referral material and a request for follow-up information. The overall rate of receiving follow-up information was 62%. Private specialists provided substantially more follow-up information (78%) than either university-affiliated emergency rooms (48%) or university-affiliated specialty clinics (59%). Patients requiring continuing medical supervision from the referring physician also fared poorly: follow-up information for them was provided only 54% of the time. The timeliness and method of providing follow-up information were examined and believed to be satisfactory when follow-up information was returned.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1650-1652
Number of pages3
JournalJAMA: The Journal of the American Medical Association
Issue number16
StatePublished - Apr 25 1980
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine(all)

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