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Too much? Too little? How much information should I put into the consult request form?

2022-02-14

A common question that we get from family physicians and nurse practitioners is how much information should be included in the consult request forms. We’ve spoken to specialists too, to get their take.

Here’s what we’ve learned:

  1. Let the Consult Form Be Your Guide. The consult request forms are customized by the specialists. So any specific pieces of information they would like to know is included there.
  2. Too much information can detract. Key points and summaries are what specialists are interested in. Too much information can dilute the most important clinical information so specialists advise on avoiding an ‘info dump.’
  3. Medications and past medical history are important. Most specialists need to know what medications the patient is taking, so including this information will help streamline the call so that you and the specialist can focus on options for the patient.
  4. A stated question helps. Specialists understand that sometimes the patient’s condition is complex so narrowing it down to a single question is difficult. However, coming up with one helps to focus the call.
  5. It’s the call that matters. The consult request form sets the stage, but it is the conversation that is most critical. Providing enough information that the specialist is oriented to the general problem your patient is having, as well as some background information, will set up a call where the focus can be on collaborative problem solving.
Key Points
  • Too much information can detract
  • A stated question helps
  • It's the call that matters

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