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Out-of-Hours Medical Services Get Suboptimal Reviews

Users report concerns with services although most still satisfied with care received

MONDAY, Dec. 3 (HealthDay News) -- In a recent survey of patients utilizing out-of-hours primary medical services in the United Kingdom, users reported concerns and expressed uncertainty in when and how to best utilize the service, however most were satisfied with care received, according to an article published in the December issue of Quality & Safety in Health Care.

S.H. Richards, of the Peninsula Medical School in Exeter, U.K., and colleagues explored the experience of 27 recent users of out-of-hours primary care services through focused discussion groups and telephone interviews.

The study highlighted eight key themes in dealing with issues of quality and safety, including deciding to call the service and quality of clinical care received. Patient concerns regarded the urgency with which their cases were handled and the amount of time spent waiting for a return call or home visit. Patients also expressed anxiety about whether their call was appropriate, mostly due to the perception that the service was often misused or abused, and uncertainty over how the service operated.

"These findings support those of previous qualitative studies in this area, which also found that the decision to call the out-of-hours service is complex and that home visits and swift access to medical care after initial contact are highly valued," the authors conclude. "Service users need clear information on how current out-of-hours services operate and how it should be used."

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