Revista Panamericana de Salud Pública
Print version ISSN 1020-4989
DOVAL, Hernan C. et al. Perception of consultation length in cardiology and its ethical implications. Rev Panam Salud Publica [online]. 2008, vol.24, n.1, pp. 31-35. ISSN 1020-4989. http://dx.doi.org/10.1590/S1020-49892008000700004.
OBJECTIVES: This study considered whether the time employers allotted to medical consultations in many working environments in Argentina might be inadequate to carry out an interview. The objective was to conduct a survey to gather information on the length of cardiologic medical consultations in Argentina. METHODS: During 2007, a survey was carried out that included 816 cardiologists. RESULTS: Seventy-six percent of participants said they needed 20 to 30 minutes, and 14% considered that 15 minutes was sufficient, for an adequate consultation. On the other hand, 64% reported that their employer required that consultations be done in 10 to 15 minutes, and 86% cited limits of less than 20 minutes (P < 0.0001). This time was inadequate for 60% of physicians. With regard to ethics, 89% answered affirmatively that requiring that patients be attended in such a short time could be considered an ethical flaw of the employer; 75% acknowledged their own ethical flaw when agreeing to conduct the consultation in an inadequate amount of time. When opinions were grouped, 22% considered that an adequate consultation length was fundamental for a correct patient-physician relationship, 27% reported that this time depended on "pressures" of the system, 19% indicated that inadequate consultation length affected the quality of attention patients received, 17% thought that low fees forced employers to reduce this time with a resulting detriment in quality of care, and 15% said that consultation length was variable and depended on the patient. CONCLUSIONS: This study showed that 60% of physicians perceived as insufficient the time their employers allotted for conducting an adequate consultation. Most believed that allotting such a short time for examining patients could be considered an ethical flaw.
Keywords : Referral and consultation; cardiology; ethics; Argentina.