How do general practitioners compare with the outpatient department when requesting upper abdominal ultrasound examinations?

C H Charlesworth, M A Sampson
Clinical Radiology 1994, 49 (5): 343-5
The recent re-organization of the National Health Service has placed a new emphasis on reexamining the services that hospitals provide to General Practitioners (GPs). To assess the positive findings from an existing open access ultrasound service for GPs in a metropolitan District General Hospital, a retrospective study was performed of 300 consecutive patients referred by GPs compared with 300 consecutive patients referred from the general medical, surgical and geriatric Outpatient Departments--specifically with regard to upper abdominal ultrasound. The frequency with which the clinical indication for referral was associated with an ultrasound finding which could explain the patient's symptoms was measured and the similarities and differences in the two groups are discussed. The study did not attempt to assess the complete value of this service since that would have necessitated assessment of the importance of negative findings. In the two groups the total number of ultrasound abnormalities was similar. A total of 25.3% of GP referrals had an abnormality which could account for their symptoms. The corresponding figure for hospital outpatients was 33.6%. On this criterion, the provision of open access for abdominal ultrasound to GPs is justified.

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