Which referrals are more accurate?

March 25, 2008

Cataract referrals made by optometrists are more likely to include better information regarding vision loss than referrals made by general practitioners .

Cataract referrals made by optometrists are more likely to include better information regarding vision loss than referrals made by general practitioners (GPs), according to a study published online ahead of print by Eye.

Jon Park and co-workers from the West of England Eye Unit, Exeter, UK compared the quality of referrals and listing rates of direct optometric referrals versus GP referrals for cataract surgery. A retrospective cohort of 124 patients was identified (62 via optometric pathway and 62 via GP pathway).

Optometric referrals were more likely to include information relating to objective visual loss than GP referrals (100% versus 87%, p=0.0061) and more likely to counsel the patient (97% versus 18%, p=0.0001). On the other hand, GP referrals were more likely to comment on personal circumstances (32% versus 3%, p=0.0001), past medical history (95% versus 68%, p=0.0001) and drug history (94% versus 69%, p=0.0009). Operative rates were higher for the optometric direct referrals relative to GP referrals (87% versus 69%, p=0.0284).

It was the conclusion of the study's authors that optometric direct referrals usually contain better information regarding a patient's objectively measured vision than GP referrals.

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