ABSTRACT: To measure the safety and acceptability of providing written advice (WA) for selected patients referred to a haematology service, as an alternative to inpatient or outpatient assessment.
Review of the initial management and subsequent course of patients newly referred to a tertiary referral hospital in Christchurch, New Zealand, between 16 October 2003 and 8 June 2006. Structured questionnaires were sent to all referring doctors and patients recently managed with WA.
Numbers and diagnoses of patients managed with WA, early assessment or delayed assessment; re-referral and treatment details; characteristics of WA letters; and opinions of referring doctors and their patients on the WA process.
26% of new referrals (714/2785) were managed with prompt WA, while 16% (455/2785) received the alternative of delayed assessment. After a median follow-up of 23 months (range, 8-40 months), 13% of those managed with WA (91/714) were re-referred back to the same haematologists; 7% (52/714) were assessed in hospital and 2% (15/714) eventually required treatment. There were no deaths due to haematological causes. Over 90% of responding referring doctors said the WA process was rapid and effective, and 77% of recently managed patients were pleased to be treated by their own doctors.
Using WA to manage a substantial minority of patients referred to haematologists can be rapid and safe. It is widely accepted by referring doctors.
The Medical journal of Australia 02/2008; 188(1):9-12. · 2.81 Impact Factor