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Eight challenges faced by general practitioners caring for patients after an acute coronary syndrome

General practitioners have an essential role in the management of patients who have recently been discharged from hospital after an acute coronary syndrome (ACS). As the duration of hospital stay has shortened over recent decades, this role has become even more important. There are many challenges facing the GP in fulfilling this demanding role. This article deals with eight common challenges faced by the GP caring for patients after an ACS.

Not enough information from the hospital

Insufficient documentation ranks as one of the major gripes of GPs dealing with hospitals. It is a worldwide problem, and not limited to ACS, although arguably of greater consequence in this potentially unpredictable and life-threatening condition. The discharge summary is the most important and often the only form of communication from hospitals to primary care. An Australian study in 2001 showed that only 37% of hospital discharge summaries reached the GP.1 Audits of discharge summaries in Victorian hospitals found high completion rates within hospital records (88%–100%) but significant delays in sending them to GPs (only 4%–32% within 14 days), with fewer than a third available to GPs at the first post-discharge visit.2 Quality improvement initiatives can improve these rates — a recent national audit as part of quality improvement showed that 77% of GPs reported receiving a…