Patients who have their GP appointments interrupted by nurses and other members of staff could be receiving a poorer standard of care, research has suggested.
A study published in the journal Quality and Safety in Health Care found that such disruptions amounted to an average time of 6.6 hours per week.
Being pulled in different directions by competing demands meant many GPs failed to return to one in five (19%) of their jobs, the report added, with 3.3% of tasks being interrupted more than once.
And when doctors do return to their work, they spend less time on it than they would have had they not been stopped.
Writing online, the researchers said making up for "lost time" was the main reason for hurrying jobs, adding that GPs compensated for interruptions "by working faster and cutting corners".
The investigation followed 40 A&E doctors over a 210-hour period, recording 9,588 tasks.
Copyright © Press Association 2010
Quality and Safety in Health Care