Objective: To examine the type and quality of consultations requested from the otolaryngology service at a tertiary care hospital. Study Design: Retrospective. Method: Review of written documentation of consultations over a 6-month period. Results: One hundred eleven requests were received, and 107 written reports were made. Twenty services made requests. Thirty-two percent of requests had a legible requester or contact listed. Sixty-seven percent of requests stated why the patient was in hospital, and 85% stated the otolaryngological complaint. Thirty-two percent of requests made accurate reference to the otolaryngological history, and 6% recorded an ENT examination that was accurate. Seven percent of patients were intubated, and 16% had a tracheostomy prior to evaluation. Forty-eight percent of patients required flexible nasopharyngolaryngoscopy. Sixteen percent of patients required rhinoscopy, and 16% required tracheotomy. Twelve percent of patients needed audiograms, and small numbers of patients required biopsy, debridement of ears, ventilation tube insertion, nasal packing, or radiological studies. Reports were made by senior residents, and evidence that the case was discussed with or seen by an attending surgeon was present in 43% of reports. A diagnosis was stated in 85% of reports, and in 3% the diagnosis appeared to be inaccurate as compared with the history and physical examination recorded. A follow-up plan was stated in 70% of reports. Conclusions: There is a need to educate physicians about collegial communication regarding patients. This information can direct curriculum needed to prepare otolaryngology residents to provide a consultative service in a teaching hospital. This method of determining "true learning needs" can be used in other situations to improve resident training.
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