Training in the hospital entails learning how to write the discharge summary—a now ubiquitous tool that recaps a patient’s time on the ward and details the next steps to be taken by the patient and her care providers on the road to recovery.
Training in the hospital entails learning how to write the discharge summary—a now ubiquitous tool that recaps a patient’s time on the ward and details the next steps to be taken by the patient and her care providers on the road to recovery. The writer of the discharge summary is the quarterback who determines actionable tasks for each provider.
I have noticed an odd theme permeating the language of discharge summaries: specialist physicians are almost always designated by name, while the patient’s family physician often remains nameless: “Dr Smith (gastroenterology) to do endoscopy in 2 weeks. Dr Jones (hematology) to evaluate pancytopenia. Family physician to see patient in 2 weeks for a follow-up appointment.”
Perhaps we write this way because we assume the patient has no doubt as to who “family physician” is—at least, when they have one. Conversely, connecting with specialists in the community can be overwhelming, and having a name may streamline getting in the door. And yet, the depersonalization of family physicians in discharge summaries subtly reveals a hidden curriculum that disrespects colleagues on the front lines of primary care. We may not do this deliberately, but we can do better. Names matter. Let’s make sure every member of the medical team has one.
—Max Deschner, BA, University of Ottawa MD Candidate, Class of 2018
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of Medical Journal Editors (ICMJE) recommends the following citation style, which is the now nearly universally
accepted citation style for scientific papers:
Halpern SD, Ubel PA, Caplan AL, Marion DW, Palmer AM, Schiding JK, et al. Solid-organ transplantation in HIV-infected patients. N Engl J Med. 2002;347:284-7.
About the ICMJE and citation styles
The ICMJE is small group of editors of general medical journals who first met informally in Vancouver, British Columbia, in 1978 to establish guidelines for the format of manuscripts submitted to their journals. The group became known as the Vancouver Group. Its requirements for manuscripts, including formats for bibliographic references developed by the U.S. National Library of Medicine (NLM), were first published in 1979. The Vancouver Group expanded and evolved into the International Committee of Medical Journal Editors (ICMJE), which meets annually. The ICMJE created the Recommendations for the Conduct, Reporting, Editing, and Publication of Scholarly Work in Medical Journals to help authors and editors create and distribute accurate, clear, easily accessible reports of biomedical studies.
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For more information on the ICMJE Recommendations for the Conduct, Reporting, Editing, and Publication of Scholarly Work in Medical Journals, visit www.icmje.org