I am a neurologist treating disorders of brain, spinal cord and nerves. I like educating public and doctors about various aspects of neurological illnesses. This blog is an attempt towards the same. I work at Apollo Hospitals, (Jubilee Hills and Kukatpally branches), Hyderabad (phone-0091-40-23607777/60601066/9618204512; firstname.lastname@example.org)
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Wednesday, April 13, 2016
OPTIMUM DURATION OF OPD CONSULTATION
WHAT IS THE OPTIMUM DURATION OF OPD CONSULTATION?
Almost all doctors
see patients in OPD and it is the most important aspect of patient care for a
physician. For a surgeon, OPD consultation is important to counsel patients
regarding surgery after discussing the pros and cons of the procedure.
What factors determine the success of OPD
There are several
aspects of OPD consultation that determine whether it was successful or not.
These include: 1. Whether doctor carefully listened to patient’s problems or
not? 2. Whether the doctor was pleasant or not? 3. Whether adequate time was
allotted for the consultation or not? 4. Whether adequate information was given
regarding diagnosis, investigations, medications, treatment, prognosis, etc or not?
Of all of these, the duration is consultation is probably one of the most
How long should an ideal OPD consultation last?
There is no
uniform guideline regarding the optimum duration for an OPD consultation.
Doctors complete an OPD consultation in as little as 3-4 minutes, and some
doctors spend almost an hour per patient in the OPDs. Spending more time would
increase patient’s satisfaction, however, that is not the only criteria ensuring
Longer duration of
OPD consultation would limit the number of patients a doctor can see per day.
This would lead to long waiting periods. Is it advisable, when there are so few
doctors seeing so many patients?
Duration of OPD
consultation can increase without necessarily increasing the efficiency of
diagnosis and treatment. For example, patient may try to discuss in detail
certain irrelevant history (symptoms or past treatment) or he may bring volumes
of old documents, which may not be relevant. He may discuss certain facts that
he “half-learned” from the Internet, which may not be relevant to the case.
Some patients are very talkative and it is difficult to stop them.
What is the best strategy?
doctors know the relevant factors in history taking and examination. Doctors
should guide the discussion in OPD, and politely point out if the patients are
drifting away. Most important points can be discussed in 8-10 minutes. In any
case, patients on average remember only three points from an outpatient
consultation. So, there is no real point in overloading patients with too much
information in a single consultation. Also, not all patients require the same
amount of time. For example, a regular patient coming for diabetes or
hypertension medications may not take more than 3 minutes, if sugar and BP are
normal. On the other hand, an elderly patient with multiple comorbidities on
multiple medications may take 15 minutes. So, the duration can be tailored as
per the needs of the patient. On an average, 8-10 minutes per consultation
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