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J R Soc Med. 1994 April; 87(4): 213–214.
PMCID: PMC1294445

Initial assessment and follow-up by a physiotherapist of patients with back pain referred to a spinal clinic.


To reduce waiting times and costs, a specially trained physiotherapist was employed to review 100 patients with back pain referred by general practitioners (GPs) to a spinal clinic; 78% proved to have a spinal disorder. Only 24% of the original referrals needed to see the surgeon, with 76% being successfully managed by the physiotherapist. Six per cent of referrals were deemed inappropriate and 16% of patients failed to attend. To evaluate the physio-therapist's assessments each case was discussed with the consultant surgeon, and the appropriateness of the management of each patient was similarly investigated. With appropriate training and a good working relationship with the surgeon, a chartered physiotherapist can successfully screen patients in a low back pain clinic, such that the efficiency of the unit is improved by improving the throughput whilst maintaining the same standard of care.

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Selected References

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  • Garfin SR, Kurz LT, Harlow SJ, Katz MM, Weisman M. The effectiveness of a nurse practitioner in screening patients in a spinal disorders clinic. Spine (Phila Pa 1976) 1988 Jan;13(1):121–123. [PubMed]

Articles from Journal of the Royal Society of Medicine are provided here courtesy of Royal Society of Medicine Press