American College Of Surgeons - Inspiring Quality: Highest Standards, Better Outcomes

After surgery, a follow-up phone call may suffice

OCTOBER 23, 2017
Clinical Congress Daily Highlights, Monday First Edition

When it comes to follow-up for general surgical patients, is a telephone call as good as an office visit?

Yes, according to a new study led by Paul Healy, MCh, MB, ChB, a surgeon at the Connolly Hospital in Dublin, Ireland.

After discharge, patients are routinely asked to meet with their surgeons to review the procedure and have questions answered. Yet many see this practice as generating unnecessary appointments that place a social and financial burden on patients and relatives, diminish access to care and increase workload.

The study assessed discharges over a three-month period, excluding patients requiring further investigation, treatment and cancer surveillance. Of 366 patients discharged, 210 were consented and randomized to a scheduled telephone call assessment (108 patients) or to a clinic appointment (102 patients).

The researchers concluded that routine follow-up via telephone should be the norm rather than the exception for a broad range of general surgical patients. Fewer unnecessary appointments can lead to greater efficiencies and access to outpatient services for newly referred patients. An assessment of patient satisfaction with telephone follow-up is ongoing.

Additional Information:
The Scientific Forum presentation, Can A Virtual Clinic Review Replace A Surgical Clinic Visit After Discharge?  A Randomised Controlled Trial, was held October 23 at the 2017 Clinical Congress of the American College of Surgeons in San Diego, CA.  Program, webcast and audio information is available online at

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