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Open Access Study protocol

Receptionist rECognition and rEferral of PaTients with Stroke (RECEPTS) study - protocol of a mixed methods study

James P Sheppard1, Satinder Singh2, Janet Jones3, Elizabeth Bates3*, John Skelton3, Connie Wiskin3, Richard J McManus1 and Ruth M Mellor3

Author Affiliations

1 Department of Primary Care Health Sciences, University of Oxford, Oxford, UK

2 General Practitioner, Northfield Health Centre (Tudor Practice), Birmingham, UK

3 Primary Care Clinical Sciences, University of Birmingham, Birmingham, UK

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BMC Family Practice 2014, 15:91  doi:10.1186/1471-2296-15-91

Published: 12 May 2014

Abstract

Background

As the first point of contact for patients and witnesses of stroke, General Practice receptionists can be instrumental in deciding the urgency of clinical contact. Despite the considerable complexity of this task, reception staff are not clinically trained. Minimising the time taken to access thrombolysis is crucial in acute stroke as treatment must be initiated within 4.5 hours of the onset, and the earlier the better, to achieve the best outcomes. Research suggests that patients who first contact their General Practice following the onset of stroke symptoms are less likely to receive thrombolysis, in part due to significant delays within Primary Care.

This study therefore aims to understand the role of General Practice receptionists, with particular interest in receptionist’s ability to recognise people who may be suffering from a stroke and to handle such patients as a medical emergency.

Methods

The Receptionist rECognition and rEferral of PaTients with Stroke (RECEPTS) study will be a Primary Care based mixed methods study. 60 General Practices in the West Midlands will be recruited. Each practice will receive 10 unannounced simulated patient telephone calls, after the 10 calls questionnaires will be administered to each receptionist. These will examine the behaviour of receptionists towards patients presenting in Primary Care with stroke symptoms, and their knowledge of stroke symptoms. An embedded qualitative study will use interviews and focus groups to investigate the views of General Practice staff on the receptionists’ role in patient referral and whether training in this area would be helpful.

Discussion

The results of the RECEPTS study will have important implications for providers of Primary Care. The study will establish current practice in UK primary care in terms of General Practice receptionists’ knowledge of the presentation and appropriate referral of those who may be suffering a stroke. It will highlight training needs and how such training might be best delivered.

Keywords:
Medical receptionists; General Practice; Family practice; Health Services Administration; Simulation; Patient; Research; Qualitative; Questionnaires