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March 1996

Patient Referrals to a Dermatologist: The Referring Physician's Perspective

Author Affiliations

From the Department of Dermatology and Cutaneous Surgery, University of Miami School of Medicine, Miami, Fla.

Arch Dermatol. 1996;132(3):292-294. doi:10.1001/archderm.1996.03890270068009

Background and Design:  As changes in the health care system aim to reduce the cost of medical care, physicians need to understand and be able to justify their reasons for referring patients. To learn the basis for making referrals, we asked 116 referring physicians why they made referrals to one university-based physician. We also assessed the referring physicians' satisfaction.

Results:  A total of 112 of the 116 physicians responded in reference to 114 patients. The responses fit into five categories. Fifty of 114 patients were referred for therapy; 16 patients, for a diagnosis; and 16, for a combination of diagnosis and therapy. Other reasons in descending order of frequency were (1) a nondermatologist referring the patient to a dermatologist, (2) self-referral, ie, the patient was not referred by the physician, and (3) the patient's personality was difficult. The referring physicians were satisfied in 94 instances.

Conclusions:  The most frequent reason for referral was for therapy. This observation may be generally true for many physicians, since it is consistent with results of the two other studies, in different fields, that we were able to find. Eighty-two percent of referrals were satisfactory to the referring physicians. Most of the physicians who were unsatisfied with the referral process stated they had not received a follow-up letter from the consulted physician.(Arch Dermatol. 1996;132:292-294)

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