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Telephone Consultations in Primary Care: A Practical Guide [Paperback]

Tony Males
4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
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Product details

  • Paperback: 191 pages
  • Publisher: Royal College of General Practitioners (1 April 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0850843065
  • ISBN-13: 978-0850843064
  • Product Dimensions: 24.4 x 17 x 1.4 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 342,148 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description


The multi-professional environment of primary care requires a common set of skills, including the ability to communicate within and between professional groups. It is not only the patient who consults in primary care: nurses consult doctors and vice versa, paramedics may seek advice from the scene of an emergency and GPs often call upon their consultant colleagues as an alternative to referral. The telephone is ideally suited to these examples of inter-professional communication. The training that health professionals and their support staff receive in face-to-face communication skills may not be sufficient to prepare them for the unique medium provided by the telephone. The aims of this book are to: guide primary care professionals in the appropriate use of the telephone when speaking with patients, carers and colleagues; raise awareness of the limitations of telephone communication, and improve the accuracy of triage, diagnosis and advice-giving. The ten chapters comprising this book cover a range of telephone communication and consultation issues: factors that modify verbal and non-verbal communication in the absence of visual and other sensory cues and how these affect the diagnostic accuracy and decision-making behaviour of health professionals; educational interventions and patient-centred telephone consultation models that attempt to compensate for the relatively cue-less environment of the telephone; guidance on how to assess and manage common clinical problems presenting by telephone in the context of uncertainty; and the multidisciplinary and inter-professional nature of telephone medicine and other methods of conducting consultations at a distance. Readers are encouraged to take an active role in their professional development in this area by attempting the exercises in each chapter. Transcripts of telephone consultations appear in several chapters to facilitate learning. This book is intended for GPs, GP registrars, foundation year doctors in general practice, practice nurses and nurse practitioners.

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Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A very useful book for Primary Care 16 July 2007
This book explores the use of the telephone in general practice consultations and would be useful for practice nurses and receptionists as well as GPs. The author discusses the dynamics of telephone consultations and how they differ from face-to face encounters. Transcripts of real and imaginary consultations help to show how health professionals deal with making triage decisions and picking up clues about a person they cannot see.

Exercises are provided throughout the book to help clinicians work through an approach to this kind of consulting. Particularly useful are the summaries of a number of conditions commonly dealt with by telephone triage, detailing the questions to ask and the "red flags" to eliminate.

I would recommend the book to anyone involved in this kind of work in GP surgeries or out-of-hours centres. We all use the telephone all the time in dealing with patients but we need to think about what we do and not just assume that we can do it right."
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
This book fills a gap in the market. There was previously no book in the world that attempted to specialise in telephone consultations and for UK GP readers, this is a particularly well targeted book.

What I liked

The sequence of chapters works well. I liked the treatment of theoretical issues in relation to telephone conusultations. The sentences are well written. There is extensive referencing which should satisfy anyone with a desire to go deeper into the literature.

What I didnt like so much

I found the layout difficult. This says something about the editors as well as the author. I found the text to be presented in long long chunks making it harder going than need be.

I also think that the literature is presented too uncritically. By this I mean that it sometimes seems as if every conceivable reference is mentioned, and it can be difficult to winkle out the key messages

Finally, and linked, I would have liked a clearer focus on the practical ie how does a doctor or nurse actually go about structuring a more effective telephone consultation?


4 out of 5. It is a scholarly and comprehensive work, but a little hard going and with insufficient focus on the practical messages for my taste. There is a US book "Telephone Medicine" by Katz that is more practical, although less comprehensive and scholarly. And you have to translate from US to English!
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
By Omar
This book is not an easy read. The theory base at the start is tough going and frankly I couldn't hack it. Only 3 chapters were of significant interest/any good:
the role of the GP in tel consultation, pitfalls of the telephone consultation, and clinical scenarios (this latter was nothing new at all, but readable).

To be honest, if I'd known, i probably would have borrowed it from the library only.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Compulsory reading 18 Mar 2009
This book covers telephone triage, from its history, with examples of how it has been used around the world, to current examples and guidelines for good practice. The final section, with advice on individual presenting conditions and how to safety net, is invaluable.
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