When is a patient's use of primary care services unwarranted? Some answers from physicians.
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To explore physicians' perceptions of what constitutes unwarranted use of their services, examples of patient-initiated encounters considered unwarranted were contributed by physicians and categorized as requests for unnecessary services, inappropriately timed encounters or inconsiderate requests. A random sample of family and general practitioners in Ontario was surveyed with a questionnaire derived from these examples. Although there was no unanimity, examples of missed appointments, requests for further, unnecessary investigations, consultations or admissions to hospital, duplication of services, visits prompted by a desire to obtain free samples of over-the-counter drugs, some out-of-hours calls, and visits of healthy workers to obtain notes regarding fitness for work were seen as unwarranted by 70% or more of the respondents.
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