About Careers MedBlog Contact us

Medical Staff Neglect Family History of Acutely Ill Patients

by VR Sreeraman on June 21, 2010 at 1:28 PM
Font : A-A+

 Medical Staff Neglect Family History of Acutely Ill Patients

Medical staff rarely consider family history when caring for acutely ill patients in hospital, according to research published in the Medical Journal of Australia.

Dr Andrew Langlands, from the Royal Perth Hospital, and co-authors conducted an audit of the medical records of 300 randomly selected patients who were admitted to the hospital's short-stay medical unit between July and December 2007.


Their study showed that 73.7 per cent of patient records had no family history documented, and just 16 per cent contained a family history with specific details about the presence or absence of a medical condition in at least one relative.

"This retrospective survey found that family history is seldom documented by medical staff assessing acutely ill patients," Dr Langlands said.

"As family history offers an increasing range of opportunities for improved health outcomes, any failure to routinely assess it is a lost opportunity to improve the health of those at increased risk of familial disease."

In two accompanying editorials in the MJA, Dr Josephine Thomas, from the Royal Adelaide Hospital, Prof Campbell Thompson, from the Department of General Medicine at the University of Adelaide, and Prof Jon Emery, Chair of General Practice at the University of Western Australia, and his co-authors write that it is unrealistic for clinicians to record a patient's family history in acute hospital admissions because of increased workload and time pressures.

"The acute admission is not an ideal setting for detailed and accurate history taking; patients are usually unwell and access to their family is compromised," Dr Thomas said.

"We would argue that, under present circumstances and with doubt hanging over its sensitivity, specificity and effect on health outcomes, the family history is a justifiable omission from many acute hospital admissions."

Prof Emery said that not all patients required detailed assessment of their family history, and that simple, self-completed family history screening questionnaires could assist time-poor clinicians in recording patients' family history.

"Internationally, there is growing recognition that a family medical history can support tailored disease prevention ... There is some evidence that having knowledge of a family history of a specific condition is associated with improved uptake of a range of disease-preventive activities for breast, colorectal and skin cancer," Prof Emery said.

"It is time to reconsider the clinical benefits arising from family history and start making better use of it in clinical practice."

The Medical Journal of Australia is a publication of the Australian Medical Association.

Source: MJA


Latest General Health News

What Are the Consequences of Celebrities Endorsing Tobacco?
In India, youth must be aware of the diseases linked to cigarette smoking and tobacco consumption, causing a form of healthcare emergency.
 People Living Close to the Seaside Enjoy Better Health
Direct coastal access may represent a viable route to public health promotion, but the relationships of coastal living are not strongest among lower-income groups.
 Over Four Million Gardeners Place Their Hearing in Danger
New research by Tinnitus UK has found that over four million gardeners are putting their hearing capacity at risk this summer without using safety protection.
Breaking the Barrier: Unraveling Mucus Plugs to Save Lives in COPD
Mucus plugs could be targeted to help reduce fatalities from chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.
 Disease Modifying Therapies for Multiple Sclerosis Continue to Drive Up Healthcare Cost
The development of reliable curative therapies for multiple sclerosis could significantly reduce the economic burden of the disease on patients and wider society.
View All
This site uses cookies to deliver our services.By using our site, you acknowledge that you have read and understand our Cookie Policy, Privacy Policy, and our Terms of Use  Ok, Got it. Close

Medical Staff Neglect Family History of Acutely Ill Patients Personalised Printable Document (PDF)

Please complete this form and we'll send you a personalised information that is requested

You may use this for your own reference or forward it to your friends.

Please use the information prudently. If you are not a medical doctor please remember to consult your healthcare provider as this information is not a substitute for professional advice.

Name *

Email Address *

Country *

Areas of Interests