Research Article

Referrals to hospital by general practitioners: a study of compliance and communication.

BMJ 1988; 297 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.297.6658.1246 (Published 12 November 1988) Cite this as: BMJ 1988;297:1246
  1. K. J. McGlade,
  2. T. Bradley,
  3. G. J. Murphy,
  4. G. P. Lundy
  1. Department of General Practice, Queen's University, Belfast.

    Abstract

    To determine the extent of non-attendance at first hospital appointments 269 hospital referrals made in one practice over 14 weeks were analysed retrospectively. Non-attendance was more likely among patients referred to outpatient departments than to casualty or for admission. Fifteen per cent (41/269) of all patients and 20% (33/167) of outpatients failed to keep their initial appointments. Prolonged waiting times from referral to appointment were significantly related to non-attendance. Twenty weeks after the last referral had been made no communication had been received by the practice for 24% (61/252) of all referral letters received by the hospital. Minimum delays to appointments and improved communication between hospitals and general practitioners would help general practitioners to make appropriate referrals and improve compliance.