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Ophthalmology. 2014 Jan;121(1):126-133. doi: 10.1016/j.ophtha.2013.08.027. Epub 2013 Oct 18.

Assessment of the quality of glaucoma referral letters based on a survey of glaucoma specialists and a glaucoma guideline.

Author information

1
Department of Ophthalmology and Vision Sciences, University of Toronto, Toronto, Ontario, Canada. Electronic address: jdcheng@gmail.com.
2
Department of Ophthalmology and Vision Sciences, University of Toronto, Toronto, Ontario, Canada.

Abstract

OBJECTIVE:

To assess the quality of glaucoma referral letters and to report on the results of a survey of glaucoma specialists about referral letter content.

DESIGN:

Cross-sectional study.

PARTICIPANTS:

A survey of 135 glaucoma specialists and audit of 200 consecutive referral letters to a tertiary glaucoma unit.

METHODS:

An online questionnaire was sent to members of the Canadian and American Glaucoma Societies asking what they considered the most important data to be included in a glaucoma referral. Consecutive referral letters to a tertiary glaucoma unit were assessed for legibility and content on the basis of the survey results and information items in current guidelines.

MAIN OUTCOME MEASURES:

Survey outcome and proportion of included content items in referral letters.

RESULTS:

The survey revealed that the top 5 most important data that glaucoma specialists would like to be included in a referral letter for progressive glaucoma were serial visual fields (VFs), current glaucoma therapy, current intraocular pressure (IOP), maximum IOP, and serial disc imaging. These items often were omitted in the referral letters audited. A total of 200 referral letters were assessed, 46% from ophthalmologists, 42% from optometrists, 10% from family practitioners, and 2% from other sources. Reasons for referral were diagnosis of glaucoma (37%), unstable glaucoma (25%), angle assessment (17%), and others (21%). Some 26% of the referral letters were deemed illegible (18% from ophthalmologists vs. 6% from optometrists; P< 0.01). Degree of urgency was mentioned in 27% of referrals. Optometrists were more likely than ophthalmologists to provide visual acuity (VA), IOP, refraction, and VFs (P< 0.01 for each). Some 24% of referrals for progression included more than 10 of the 14 information points suggested by the Canadian glaucoma guidelines, and 34% included fewer than 8 of the 14 points.

CONCLUSIONS:

Referral letters frequently did not include important information, with 34% of referral letters deemed substandard. Optometrist referrals were better than ophthalmologist referrals in terms of content and legibility. A checklist of clinical details for referring physicians is suggested, which includes maximum and current IOP, disc evaluation, serial VFs, and serial disc imaging.

PMID:
24140116
DOI:
10.1016/j.ophtha.2013.08.027
[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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