Acute referral of patients from general practitioners: should the hospital doctor or a nurse receive the call?

Link to article at PubMed

Acute referral of patients from general practitioners: should the hospital doctor or a nurse receive the call?

Scand J Trauma Resusc Emerg Med. 2011;19:47

Authors: Mogensen CB, Mortensen AM, Staehr PB

Abstract
BACKGROUND: Surprisingly little is known about the most efficient organization of admissions to an emergency hospital. It is important to know, who should be in front when the GP requests an acute admission. The aim of the study was to analyse how experienced ED nurses perform when assessing requests for admissions, compared with hospital physicians.
METHODS: Before- and after ED nurse assessment study, in which two cohorts of patients were followed from the time of request for admission until one month later. The first cohort of patients was included by the physicians on duty in October 2008. The admitting physicians were employed in the one of the specialized departments and only received request for admission within their speciality. The second cohort of patients was included by the ED in May 2009. They received all request from the GPs for admission, independent of the speciality in question.
RESULTS: A total of 944 requests for admission were recorded. There was a non-significant trend towards the nurses admitting a smaller fraction of patients than the physicians (68 versus 74%). While the nurses almost never rejected an admission, the physicians did this in 7% of the requests. The nurses redirected 8% of the patients to another hospital, significantly more than the physicians with only 1%. (p < 0.0001). The nurses referred significantly more patients to the correct hospital than the doctors (78% vs. 70% p: 0.03). There were no differences in the frequency of unnecessary admissions between the groups. The self-reported use of time for assessment was twice as long for the physicians as for the nurses. (p < 0.0001).
CONCLUSIONS: We found no differences in the frequency of admitted patients or unnecessary admissions, but the nurses redirected significantly more patients to the right hospital according to the catchment area, and used only half the time for the assessment. We find, that nurses, trained for the assignment, are able to handle referrals for emergency admissions, but also advise the subject to be explored in further studies including other assessment models and GP satisfaction.

PMID: 21831325 [PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]

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