Journal of Physiotherapy & Physical Rehabilitation

ISSN: 2573-0312

Open Access

Inclusion of Plain-film Radiographs with GP Referrals to Lower-limb Orthopaedic Clinics: A Retrospective Study


Gopikanthan Manoharan, Anup B Pradhan and Stephen H White

Background: It has been reported that 40% of new patients referred to orthopaedic clinics had radiographs in the previous 12 months. This means that radiographs very often have to be obtained during clinics, thus increasing outpatient clinic waiting time. This is especially so in District General Hospitals (DGHs) where long out-patient clinic waiting times cause dissatisfaction among patients.

Purpose: To determine whether new patients to orthopaedic clinics were being referred with plain film radiographs.

Design and setting: Retrospective study over a one month period in a DGH and a Tertiary referral centre.

Method: All new patient referrals to two consultant surgeons in a DGH and to four consultants in a Tertiary referral centre were reviewed over a one-month period to identify whether radiographs had been performed prior to referral. Information on previous radiographs was obtained from GP referral letters, orthopaedic clinic letters and this was verified through the imaging system at the hospitals.

Results: There were 414 patients seen in the two hospitals in the study period, of which 102 were new GP referrals. 37.3% of these new patients were referred with no plain-film radiographs.

Conclusion: More than a third of new patient GP referrals to orthopaedic clinics were not accompanied by plainfilm radiographs. The efficiency of clinics and patient satisfaction is likely to be improved if this is addressed.


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