If internists are not explicitly instructed in how to perform consultations, the outcome of their consultative efforts may be suboptimal. We suggest that consultations will be more helpful if the following principles are followed: the consultant should determine the question that is being asked, establish the urgency of the consultation, gather primary data, communicate as briefly as appropriate, make specific recommendations, provide contingency plans, understand his own role in the process, offer educational information, communicate recommendations directly to the requesting physician, and provide appropriate follow-up. If these ten "commandments" are followed, the consultation is more likely to be effective and satisfactory for all the participants.
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