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Br J Gen Pract. Nov 1990; 40(340): 445–449.
PMCID: PMC1371413

A study of communication between general practitioners and specialists.


A random sample of referral letters from general practitioners to outpatient departments of general medicine, dermatology, neurology, and gastroenterology at an Amsterdam teaching hospital were analysed together with the specialists' replies for 144 referrals. The pairs of letters were judged by a panel of four general practitioners and four specialists. Letters were assessed according to quality and content, clarity, request for return to general practitioner care, time intervals between referral and consultation and between consultation and the specialist's reply. The judges were also asked to assess whether in their opinion the letters were of value in teaching or were discourteous. Though in general intraobserver agreement on what constitutes a good letter was low, deficiencies were revealed in the quality of letters and there were delays in transmission and missed educational opportunities.

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Selected References

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