More needs to be done to support and empower general practice staff and patients themselves to address the safety risks that can arise from phone, video and online consultations, according to a new UK-wide study of remote consulting in general practice.
While most remote GP consultations are safe, the Remote by Default study finds that GP consultations conducted remotely carry more risk for patients with some urgent conditions including new chest or abdominal pain, palliative care, physical injuries or diabetes. Safety risks include missed or inaccurate diagnoses, under-estimation of severity, delayed referral and treatment and inadequate follow-up.
The study recommends that general practice staff strongly consider a face-to-face consultation for patients who have had an initial remote consultation who are not improving, and patients with pre-existing complex illness. It also recommends that practices have protocols in place for clinical and nonclinical members of staff to ensure staff can escalate a patient’s care when needed.