• Open-access ultrasound referrals from general practice.

      Hughes, P; Beddy, P; Sheehy, N (Irish Medical Journal, 2015-03)
      Direct access referral for radiological investigations from General Practice (GP) provides an indispensable diagnostic tool and avoids the inherently long waiting time that referral through a hospital based specialty would entail. Improving access to hospital based radiology services is one of Health Information and Quality Authority's key recommendations in its report on patient referrals from general practice. This study aimed to review all GP referrals for ultrasound investigations to a tertiary referral teaching hospital over a seven month period with respect to their demographics, waiting times and diagnostic outcomes. 1,090 ultrasounds originating in general practice were carried out during the study period. Positive findings were recorded in 332 (30.46%) examinations. The median waiting time from receipt of referral to the diagnostic investigation was 56 days (range 16 - 91 years). 71 (6.5%) patients had follow-up imaging investigations while recommendation for hospital based specialty referral was made in 35 cases (3.2%). Significant findings included abdominal aortic aneurysms, metastatic disease and lymphoma. Direct access to ultrasound for general practitioners allows the referring physician to make an informed decision with regard to the need for specialist referral. We believe these findings help support the case for national direct access to diagnostic ultrasound for general practitioners.