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Year : 2021  |  Volume : 28  |  Issue : 3  |  Page : 189-195

Quality assessment of orthopedic surgery referral request letters from primary care consultation: Evaluation of a Spanish healthcare area

1 IBSAL – Biomedical Research Institute of Salamanca; Department of Surgery, Faculty of Medicine, USAL – University of Salamanca, Salamanca, Spain
2 Salamanca Primary Health Care Management, SACYL – Castilla y León Health Service, Salamanca, Spain
3 Primary Healthcare Centre “Pizarrales”, SACYL – Castilla y León Health Service, Salamanca, Spain
4 IBSAL – Biomedical Research Institute of Salamanca; Department of Surgery, Faculty of Medicine, USAL – University of Salamanca; Orthopaedic Surgery and Traumatology, University Hospital of Salamanca, Salamanca, Spain

Correspondence Address:
Prof. Juan F Blanco
Department of Orthopaedic Surgery, University Hospital of Salamanca, P° San Vicente, 58-182 – 37007, Salamanca
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None

DOI: 10.4103/jfcm.jfcm_133_21

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BACKGROUND: One of the most requested referrals for specialist consultations from primary care (PC) is orthopedic surgery (OS). The purpose of this work was to analyze the number, characteristics, and quality of PC referral request letters in a Spanish healthcare area to their OS reference department. MATERIALS AND METHODS: The referral rates for 10 years were collected, and a total of 6,225 referral letters issued during the first half of 2019 were analyzed in detail. Gender, age, patient provenance, as well as priority and other process descriptors (type of pathology, suspected diagnosis, exploratory signs, imaging tests) were assessed. A scoring system was developed to evaluate the quality of the referral to an OS consultation: Quality evaluation in OS (QEOS) model. RESULTS: The rate of referral to OS is rising. The mean age of the referred patient was 53 years and 59.3% were women. Degenerative pathologies justified most referral requests (65.7%), most of which related to the spine (24.2%) or the knee (23.2%). In the QEOS analysis of the referral request letters, we noted that only 36.5% described some physical exploration, 32.9% image tool request, 25.8% indicated the pharmacological treatment, and 11.2% subsequent physiotherapy, resulting in a poor average quality of PC to OS patient referral. CONCLUSION: There is a growing demand for patient referral from PC to OS, however, the number, content, and quality of referral request letters varies greatly. The QEOS tool can be the germ of a simple evaluation system that would help in the improvement of the process of continuous care.

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Journal of Family and Community Medicine | Published by Wolters Kluwer - Medknow
Online since 05th September, 2010