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Contact between psychotherapists and psychiatric residents who provide medication backup
Psychiatric Services 1995; doi:
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OBJECTIVE: Psychiatric residents frequently prescribe medication for patients who are in psychotherapy with another clinician. This study examined the extent and characteristics of communication between psychiatric residents and psychotherapists who treated patients in a university outpatient clinic. METHODS: Thirteen psychiatric residents who prescribed medications for 83 patients seen by other clinicians for therapy were surveyed about whether and how often during a five-month period they had contact with the therapist, who initiated the contact, and whether it took place with the patient's consent. Patients' charts were reviewed to determine if contacts were documented. RESULTS: The psychiatric residents indicated they had contact with the therapist in 44 of 83 cases (53 percent). Contact was initiated by the prescribing psychiatrist in 47.7 percent of the cases and by the therapist in 43.2 percent of the cases. The charts of only seven patients (8.4 percent) included written documentation of contact. CONCLUSIONS: Several steps are necessary to optimize communication between treating clinicians and documentation of such communication. They include initial contact to discuss the treatment contract and clarify each clinician's responsibilities, formal written consent from the patient, regular contacts between clinicians to discuss the patient's progress, and collaboration between clinicians on the patient's treatment plan.

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