Objectives The objectives of this study were to establish what happened to patients after they contacted a hospital-based medicines helpline, to describe the nature of the calls received and to measure patient satisfaction. The study also set out to investigate whether access to patients' hospital records or local expertise was necessary to answer the calls received.
Methods To assess what happened to patients after contact with the helpline and their satisfaction with the service, consenting callers were sent a questionnaire. To capture the nature of calls received, and investigate how often access to local knowledge was required, a retrospective analysis of calls was performed.
Results Patients and their carers followed the advice given in 95.9% (n=93) of cases. Patients rated their problem as having been resolved as the most frequent outcome (52.2% n=35), followed by feeling reassured about their medicine or illness (44.8% n=30). On a 6-point rating scale (where 1 was poor and 6 was excellent) 80.2% (n=77) of respondents rated the helpline service as 6, and a further 15.6% (n=15) as 5. Patients mainly called with concerns about safety or how to take medicines and some related to discharge errors. Access to local knowledge was required in 74.5% (n=149) of cases.
Conclusions The helpline helps to reassure patients when they return home from hospital. They trust and follow the advice given, and have their medication-related problems resolved. Prompt access to patients' records or local expertise is an advantage for the successful running of the helpline.
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