Hematuria is one of the most common conditions confronting clinical urologists and is present in many genitourinary pathology conditions. Although researchers have studied hematuria symptoms in an effort to determine the best diagnostic pathway, the existing lack of scientific evidence has created variations in clinical practice. The literature does not provide enough evidence to significantly alter the need to assess these patients. Consequently, many patients with microscopic or gross hematuria undergo low-yield workups that include invasive testing and imaging with radiation. In 2007, a national group of Kaiser Permanente (KP) urology chiefs agreed that national practice recommendations were needed to address existing variations in the management and workup of hematuria. Using a KP guideline methodology, the group reached a consensus agreement on the following recommendations: 1) referral to urology is recommended for all people with gross hematuria or high-grade hematuria (>50 red blood cells per high-power field [RBCs/HPF]) on a single urinalysis (UA); 2) referral to urology and urologic evaluation is recommended for men or women with asymptomatic microscopic hematuria or symptomatic hematuria that produces >3 RBCs/HPF on two of three properly performed and collected urinalyses; and 3) voided urinary cytology should be eliminated from asymptomatic hematuria screening protocol. The test is not sensitive enough to obviate further workup if findings are negative, and elimination of this screening test is estimated to save millions of dollars across the US. Hematuria on a UA should be reported as 0 to 3 RBC/HPF, 4 to 10 RBC/HPF, 11 to 25 RBC/HPF, 26 to 50 RBC/HPF, >50 RBC/HPF, or gross hematuria. This approach will also reduce radiation exposure.
Microscopic hematuria is a common finding in patients presenting to both primary care doctors as well as urologists. Sources of microscopic hematuria include infection, stones, inflammatory disorders as well as cancer of the genitourinary tract, particularly urothelial cancer. A primary focus in the urologic workup of hematuria is to rule out cancer. This is done using radiographic studies as well as procedures such as cystoscopy and bladder biopsy. As the authors state in their article titled "The utility of serial urinary cytology in the initial evaluation of the patient with microscopic hematuria", cytologic analysis of voided urine, though attractive due to its noninvasive nature, has been found to have the neither the sensitivity, cost-effectiveness, nor the ease of administration necessary to replace more invasive diagnostics in the evaluation of microscopic hematuria.
All urological standards of care are based on the past definition of the clinical importance of macroscopic hematuria. The aim of the study was to assess the phenomenon of iatrogenic hematuria in current clinical practice and analyze its origins in patients receiving anticoagulant drugs. Retrospective analysis of clinical documentation of 238 patients that were consulted for hematuria in 2007–2009 by 5 consultant urologists was performed. In the group of 238 patients with hematuria, 155 (65%) received anticoagulants. Abnormalities of urinary tract were found in 45 (19%) patients. Estimated cost of a single neoplasm detection reached the value of 3252 Euro (mean 3-day hospitalization). The strong correlation between the presence of hematuria and anticoagulant treatment was observed. Authors suggest to redefine the present and future role of hematuria from a standard manifestation of serious urological disease to a common result of a long-term anticoagulant therapy.
Benign recurrent hematuria usually indicates a good prognosis. This condition is associated with abnormally thin glomerular basement membranes. Of 680 renal biopsy cases in which lower urinary tract disease had been excluded by careful study, 25 cases from seven children and eighteen adults met the criteria for thin glomerular basement membrane disease, placing the incidence of the disease at 3.7%. The mean patient age was 32.4 years and the male to female ratio was 1 to 5.3. The primary finding was microscopic hematuria in eighteen patients and gross hematuria in five patients. Among eighteen patients who had microscopic hematuria, one patient also exhibited proteinuria and one patient suffered from acute renal failure due to acute drug-induced interstitial nephritis. Proteinuria was only found in one patient. All of the patients had normal renal function, with the exception of one who suffered from acute renal failure. The duration of hematuria from the time of detection to the date of biopsy ranged from 3 months to 30 years with a mean interval of 56.6 months. No apparent evidence of familial hematuria in any patient was noted. Under light microscopy most glomeruli were normal. However, five cases showed focal global sclerosis. Under immunofluorescence microscopy seventeen cases were negative for all immunoglobulins, for complement, and for fibrinogen. Eight cases showed nonspecific mesangial deposition of fibrinogen and/or IgM. Ultrastructurally, extensive diffuse thinning of the GBM was a constant finding. The mean thickness of the GBM was 203.2 +/- 28.3 nm (n = 25); the thickness in adult (201.4 +/- 27.5 nm; n = 18) did not differ from that in children (208.1 +/- 32.0 nm; n = 7).
Regardless of the availability of newer and more sophisticated modalities of investigation, urinary tract cytology still remains the most commonly used non-invasive test for the diagnosis of bladder cancer.
As hematuria is the commonest presenting symptom in patients with malignancy of urinary tract, we undertook this study to know the usefulness of urine cytology in evaluation of the hematuric patients for malignancy.
Materials and Methods:
A total of 21,557 fresh voided urine samples received at our tertiary care referral centre over a period of three years were included in the study. Of these, 1428 cases had hematuria, criteria of either gross or microscopic.
Among these hematuric cases included in the study, 32.5% (464 cases) were found to have positive finding of atypical cells. In these cases with atypia, 9.5% (136 cases) were proved to have malignancy both with the histopathological biopsy and cystoscopic findings. Other cases of atypia were found to be of reactive origin, either due to instrumentation or foreign body. A large number of hematuric cases, that is, 964 cases (67.5%) were negative for atypical cells.
The limited ability of urine cytology to detect low grade bladder tumors, its subjectivity and lack of uniformity in reporting, all render urine cytology a less than perfect tool. With added collaboration between clinician and cytopathologist, urine cytology can be used an adjunct tool in evaluation of patients with hematuria.
Atypical cells; hematuria; urine cytology
The literature states that asymptomatic microscopic hematuria (AMH) is a sensitive indicator of underlying pathology and deserves investigation. However, studies to date have been done on urological outpatients and, because of referral and sampling bias, the findings may not be applicable to a family practice population. The positive predictive value of AMH may be very low in a family practice. The recommended investigations are invasive, expensive, and cause morbidity and mortality. Further studies must examine the significance of AMH in the general population. Such studies would help to identify at risk patients and, perhaps, allow investigations to be tailored to these patients, while the physician maintains a high degree of suspicion and keeps a watchful eye on the others.
Asymptomatic microscopic hematuria; family practice; urology
Little work has been done to assess the quality of health care and the use of evidence-based methods by occupational physicians in Belgium. Therefore, the main objective is to describe one aspect of occupational health assessments, namely the common use of dipstick urinalysis, and to compare the current practice with international guidelines.
A self-administered questionnaire was mailed to 211 members of the Scientific Association of Occupational Medicine in the Dutch speaking part of Belgium.
A total of 120 occupational physicians responded, giving a response rate of 57%. Dipstick urinalysis was a routine investigation for the vast majority of physicians (69%). All test strips screened for protein and in 90% also for blood. Occupational health services offered clinical tests to satisfy customer wants as international guidelines do not recommend screening for haematuria and proteinuria in asymptomatic adults. A lack of knowledge concerning positive testing and referral criteria was demonstrated in almost half of the study participants.
Belgian occupational physicians still routinely perform dipstick testing although there is no evidence to support this screening in healthy workers. To practice evidence-based medicine, occupational physicians need more instruction and training. Development and implementation of more guidelines is not only of use for the individual practitioner, it may also enhance professionalization and efficiency of occupational health care.
Evidence-based practice; Occupational health; Guidelines; Health surveillance
For the patients who visit outpatient clinics due to asymptomatic microscopic hematuria, cystoscopy has been looked upon as rather invasive compared to other diagnostic methods. We tried to elucidate the actual diagnostic value of cystoscopy in the initial evaluation of asymptomatic microscopic hematuria. We reviewed the results of cystoscopic examinations in 213 patients who visited our hospital due to asymptomatic microscopic hematuria. No definite lesion that could explain the microscopic hematuria was detected by means of IVP, urine cytology, and other nephrologic evaluations for all the patients. Among the abnormal cystoscopic findings in 55 patients, the lesions suspected to be directly related to microscopic hematuria were classified as 'significant lesions' (31 patients, 17.6%) which include entities such as bladder cancer (1.31%). 27 of 31 patients with significant lesions (85.2%) were over 50 yr old, and furthermore, 3 patients who were diagnosed as bladder tumor by cystoscopy were over 60 yr. Cystoscopy should be utilized as initial diagnostic modality in older patients with asymptomatic microscopic hematuria to rule out any possibility of bladder cancer occurrence. Further studies are needed to justify implementation of cystoscopy as an initial diagnostic modality in younger patients with asymptomatic microscopic hematuria.
To use receiver operator characteristic curve methodology to determine the test characteristics of microscopic hematuria for identifying urologic injuries in children who underwent computed tomography (CT) of the abdomen and pelvis as part of a trauma evaluation.
We performed a retrospective medical record review of all children from 0 to 12 years of age who presented to our pediatric emergency department within a Level 1 trauma center, had an abdominal and pelvic CT and a microscopic urinalysis as part of an initial evaluation for trauma. Urologic injury was defined as any injury to the kidneys, ureters or bladder. We defined hematuria from the microscopic urinalysis and reported by the clinical laboratory as the exact number of red blood cells per high power field (RBC/hpf).
Of the 502 children in the study group, 17 (3%; 95% CI [2%–5.4%]) had evidence of urologic injury on the abdominal or pelvic CT. Microscopic urinalysis for those children with urologic injury ranged from 0 to15,544 RBC/hpf. The remaining 485 children without urologic injury had a range of hematuria from 0 to 20,596 RBC/hpf. A receiver operating characteristic curve was generated and the area under the curve is 0.796 (95% CI [0.666–0.925]).
If the abdominal and pelvic CT is used as the criterion standard for identifying urologic trauma, the microscopic urinalysis has moderate discriminatory power to predict urologic injury.
Macroscopic hematuria regards the 4% to 20% of all urological visits. Renal artery aneurysms (RAAs) are detected in approximately 0.01%–1% of the general population, while intraparenchymal renal artery aneurysms (IPRAAs) are even more rarely detected in less than 10% of patients with RAAs. We present a case of a 58-year-old woman that came into the emergency room (ER) complaining of a gross hematuria during the last four days. Although in the ER room the first urine sample was clear after a cough episode, a severe gross hematuria began which led to a hemodynamically unstable patient. Finally, a radical nephrectomy was performed, and an IPRAA was the final diagnosis. A cough deteriorating hematuria could be attributed to a ruptured intraparenchymal renal artery aneurysm, which even though constitutes a rare entity, it is a life-threatening medical emergency.
Neoplastic diseases of the kidneys and urinary collecting system are relatively common, but when detected early, they have an excellent prognosis. Because gross or microscopic hematuria may be an early harbinger of genitourinary pathology, the primary care physician and internist play an integral role in diagnosing these diseases. A high index of suspicion together with a thorough history, physical examination, and appropriate diagnostic studies will enable the correct diagnosis and improved patient management in most cases.
The majority of blunt renal trauma is a consequence of motor vehicle collisions and falls. Prior publications based on urban series have shown that significant renal injuries are almost always accompanied by gross hematuria alone or microscopic hematuria with concomitant hypotension. We present a series of blunt renal trauma sustained during recreational pursuits, and describe the mechanisms, injury patterns and management.
Materials and Methods
Database review from 1996 to 2009 identified 145 renal injuries. Children younger than age 16 years, and trauma involving licensable motor vehicles, penetrating injuries and work related injuries were excluded from analysis. Grade, hematuria, hypotension, age, gender, laterality, mechanism, management, injury severity score and associated injuries were recorded.
We identified 106 patients meeting the criteria and 85% of the injuries were snow sport related. Age range was 16 to 76 years and 92.5% of patients were male. There were 39 grade 1 injuries, 30 grade 2, 22 grade 3, 12 grade 4 and 3 grade 5 injuries. Gross hematuria was present in 56.7%, 77.2% and 83.3% of grade 2, grade 3 and grade 4 injuries, respectively. None of the patients with grade 2 or greater injuries and microscopic hematuria had hypotension except 1 grade 5 pedicle injury. The nephrectomy and renorrhaphy rate for grade 1 to grade 4 injuries was 0%.
Compared to urban series of blunt renal trauma, recreationally acquired injuries appear to follow different patterns, including a paucity of associated injuries or hypotension. If imaging were limited to the presence of gross hematuria, or microscopic hematuria with hypotension, 23% of grade 2 to grade 4 injuries would be missed. Men are at higher risk than women. However, operative intervention is rarely helpful.
kidney; multiple trauma; retrospective studies; wounds; nonpenetrating; injury severity score
We determine the utility of serial urinary cytologies in patients presenting with microscopic hematuria who were evaluated with upper and lower urinary tract studies to rule out a malignancy.
Two hundred and thirty-seven patients with the diagnosis of microscopic hematuria were evaluated at an inner-city tertiary care hospital. Of these 239 patients, 182 patients had 405 cytologies obtained as part of their evaluation for hematuria. In addition, all patients had their lower urinary tract and upper tract thoroughly evaluated.
Two hundred and seventy four cytology samples were read as normal, 104 (26%) as atypia, 7 (2%) as suspicious/malignant, and 20 (5%) as unsatisfactory. Seventeen patients (9.3%) had biopsy confirmed bladder cancer. Of these 17 patients, 2 had normal cytology, 11 had atypia, and 5 had suspicious/malignant. No patient had a positive cytology and a negative biopsy. Overall the number of hematuric patients harboring bladder cancer was small (7%). Cytology #1 detected 4 cases of cancer, cytology #2 detected an additional case and cytology #3 did not detect any additional cancers.
Because of this low prevalence of bladder cancer in patients presenting with microscopic hematuria and the low sensitivity of detecting bladder cancers, the utility of urinary cytology in the initial evaluation of patients with hematuria may be minimal. The exact role of urinary cytology in the evaluation of hematuria is unknown.
Patients presenting with painless hematuria form a large part of the urological patient population. In many cases, especially in younger patients, the cause of hematuria is harmless. Nonetheless, hematuria could be a symptom of malignant disease and hence most patients will be subject to cystoscopy. In this study, we aimed to develop a prediction model based on methylation markers in combination with clinical variables, in order to stratify patients with high risk for bladder cancer.
Material and Methods
Patients (n=169) presenting with painless hematuria were included. 54 patients were diagnosed with bladder cancer. In the remaining 115 patients, the cause of hematuria was non-malignant. Urine samples were collected prior to cystoscopy. Urine DNA was analyzed for methylation of OSR1, SIM2, OTX1, MEIS1 and ONECUT2. Methylation percentages were calculated and were combined with clinical variables into a logistic regression model.
Logistic regression analysis based on the five methylation markers, age, gender and type of hematuria resulted in an area under the curve (AUC) of 0.88 and an optimism corrected AUC of 0.84 after internal validation by bootstrapping. Using a cut-off value of 0.307 allowed stratification of patients in a low-risk and high-risk group, resulting in a sensitivity of 82% (44/54) and a specificity of 82% (94/115). Most aggressive tumors were found in patients in the high-risk group. The addition of cytology to the prediction model, improved the AUC from 0.88 to 0.89, with a sensitivity and specificity of 85% (39/46) and 87% (80/92), retrospectively.
This newly developed prediction model could be a helpful tool in risk stratification of patients presenting with painless hematuria. Accurate risk prediction might result in less extensive examination of low risk patients and thereby, reducing patient burden and costs. Further validation in a large prospective patient cohort is necessary to prove the true clinical value of this model.
Renal colic (RC), is one of the most severe pain patterns which is most commonly diagnosed and managed in the emergency department (ED). This study is designed to evaluate the characteristics of adult patients presenting with pain and diagnosed with RC in the ED, length of stay in the ED and hospital and factors affecting these variables.
All consecutive adult patients who presented with side pain, flank pain, abdominal or groin pain and consequently diagnosed with urolithiasis or RC were analyzed retrospectively. Sociodemographic data, times of admission into and discharge from the ED, adjunctive complaints, results of laboratory investigations, findings on examination, treatment and drugs administered were noted.
A total of 235 patients with a diagnostic code of urolithiasis were enrolled. Physicians were more likely to order radiological and laboratory investigations for female patients and those without hematuria in urinalysis. The peak incidence of patients diagnosed with RC (p = 0.001) was noted in August, while the winter had the lowest frequency of relevant admissions. The peak frequency was between 06:00 and 08:00. Women stayed longer in the ED (p = 0.001). Absence of hematuria in urinalysis was associated with increased length of stay (p = 0.007).
Although RC is a common ED presentation for which the emergency physician has no guidelines in terms of diagnosis and management, there is no exact pattern to guide ordering investigations. Patients with atypical presentations stay longer in the ED and are likely to undergo additional tests in management.
Ureteral trauma is rare, accounting for less than 1% of all urologic traumas. However, a missed ureteral injury can result in significant morbidity and mortality. The purpose of this article is to review the literature since 1961 with the primary objective to present the largest medical literature review, to date, regarding ureteral trauma. Several anatomic and physiologic considerations are paramount regarding ureteral injuries management.
Eighty-one articles pertaining to traumatic ureteral injuries were reviewed. Data from these studies were compiled and analyzed. The majority of the study population was young males. The proximal ureter was the most frequently injured portion. Associated injuries were present in 90.4% of patients. Admission urinalysis demonstrated hematuria in only 44.4% patients. Intravenous ureterogram (IVU) failed to diagnose ureteral injuries either upon admission or in the operating room in 42.8% of cases. Ureteroureterostomy, with or without indwelling stent, was the surgical procedure of choice for both trauma surgeons and urologists (59%). Complications occurred in 36.2% of cases. The mortality rate was 17%.
The mechanism for ureteral injuries in adults is more commonly penetrating than blunt. The upper third of the ureter is more often injured than the middle and lower thirds. Associated injuries are frequently present. CT scan and retrograde pyelography accurately identify ureteral injuries when performed together. Ureteroureterostomy, with or without indwelling stent, is the surgical procedure of choice of both trauma surgeons and urologists alike. Delay in diagnosis is correlated with a poor prognosis.
OBJECTIVE: To evaluate the association between physician-reported utilization management (UM) techniques in capitated physician groups and physician satisfaction with capitated care. STUDY SETTING: 1,138 primary care physicians from 89 California capitated physician groups in 1995. STUDY DESIGN: Eighty percent of physicians (N = 910) responded to a mail survey regarding the UM policies in their groups and their satisfaction with the care they deliver. Physician-reported UM strategies measured included group-mandated preauthorization (number of referrals requiring preauthorization, referral denial rate, and referral turnaround time), group-provided explicit practice guidelines, and group-delivered educational programs regarding capitated care. We also measured two key dimensions of satisfaction with capitated care (multi-item scales): (1) satisfaction with capitated care autonomy and quality, and (2) satisfaction with administrative burden for capitated patients. EXTRACTION METHODS: We constructed two multivariate linear regression models to examine associations between physician-reported UM strategies and physician satisfaction, controlling for demographic and practice characteristics and adjusting for clustering. PRINCIPAL FINDINGS: Physician-reported denial rate and turnaround time were significantly negatively associated with capitated care satisfaction. Physicians who reported that their groups provided more guidelines were more satisfied on both dimensions, while physicians who reported that their groups sponsored more educational programs were more satisfied with administrative burden. The number of clinical decisions requiring preauthorization was not significantly associated with either dimension of satisfaction. CONCLUSIONS: Physicians who reported that their groups used UM methods that directly affected their autonomy (high denial rates and long turnaround times) were less satisfied with care for capitated patients. However, a preauthorization policy for referrals or tests was not, in and of itself, associated with satisfaction. Indirect control mechanisms such as guidelines and education were positively associated with satisfaction.
The role of intravenous pyelography (IVP) in the evaluation of blunt abdominal trauma is controversial. Major renal injuries have occasionally been reported in the absence of hematuria, but the test is not always accurate, is expensive and has potential morbidity. By reviewing the charts of 150 consecutive patients seen in an emergency department who had IVP for blunt abdominal trauma, we evaluated the ability of clinical and laboratory findings to predict IVP findings, the incidence of abnormal findings on IVP and the number of times IVP affected patient management. Only one patient's management was found to be clearly affected by the results of the IVP. We feel, therefore, that IVP should be reserved in cases of blunt abdominal trauma for patients with gross hematuria and those with microscopic hematuria and suggestive clinical findings. The absence of hematuria should preclude the use of IVP unless there are other exceedingly strong clinical findings.
Despite the increasing usage and popularity of chiropractic care, there has been limited research conducted to examine the professional relationships between conventional trained primary care physicians (PCPs) and chiropractors (DCs). The objectives of our study were to contrast the intra-professional referral patterns among PCPs with referral patterns to DCs, and to identify predictors of PCP referral to DCs.
We mailed a survey instrument to all practicing PCPs in the state of Iowa. Descriptive statistics were used to summarize their responses. Multivariable logistic regression analyses were conducted to identify demographic factors associated with inter-professional referral behaviors.
A total of 517 PCPs (33%) participated in the study. PCPs enjoyed strong intra-professional referral relationships with other PCPs. Although patients exhibited a great deal of interest in chiropractic care, PCPs were unlikely themselves to make formal referral relationships with DCs. PCPs in a private practice arrangement were more likely to exhibit positive referral attitudes towards DCs (p = 0.01).
PCPs enjoy very good professional relationships with other PCPs. However, the lack of direct formalized referral relationships between PCPs and chiropractors has implications for efficiency, continuity, quality, and patient safety in the health care delivery system. Future research must focus on identifying facilitators and barriers for developing positive relationships between PCPs and chiropractors.
To define primary care physicians’ (PCPs) practices in managing patients with benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH), and to compare these practices to portions of the Agency for Health Care Policy and Research BPH guideline and urologists’ practices.
Nationwide random sample of PCPs and urologists, selected from the American Medical Association Registry.
Initial mailing, postcard reminder, second mailing, telephone reminder, final mailing.
Primary care physicians (n = 444, response = 51%) reported seeing a median of 35 patients with BPH over the preceding year, in contrast to 240 for urologists (n = 394, response = 68%). Regarding tests recommended by the guideline, two thirds of PCPs reported rarely or never using the American Urological Association (AUA) symptom index, nearly all reported routinely performing digital rectal examinations, and many (66%) reported routinely ordering tests to determine the serum creatinine level. Although considered “optional” by the guideline, more than 90% of PCPs reported routinely ordering a prostate-specific antigen test, while infrequently using other optional tests. Regarding “not recommended” studies, a substantial minority reported selectively or routinely ordering intravenous pyelography (34%) and renal ultrasound (33%), while two thirds reported rarely or never ordering these tests. Eighty-six percent of PCPs reported prescribing medications for BPH over the preceding year; α blockers to a median of 12 patients, and finasteride to a median of 2. Variation in urology referral thresholds was suggested in responses to two patient scenarios.
Primary care physicians are actively managing patients with BPH. Some of their diagnostic evaluations vary from the recommendations of a national guideline and urologists’ practices. Referral thresholds appear to vary considerably.
prostatic hyperplasia; primary care physicians; practice patterns; practice guideline
Little is known about rural clinicians’ perspectives regarding early childhood immunization delivery, their adherence to recommended best immunization practices, or the specific barriers they confront.
To examine immunization practices, beliefs, and barriers among rural primary care clinicians for children in Oregon and compare those who deliver all recommended immunizations in their practices with those who do not.
A mailed questionnaire sent to all physicians, nurse practitioners, and physician assistants practicing primary care in rural communities throughout Oregon.
While 39% of rural clinicians reported delivering all childhood immunizations in their clinic, 43% of clinicians reported that they refer patients elsewhere for some vaccinations and 18% provided no immunizations in the clinic whatsoever. Leading reasons for referral include inadequate reimbursement, parental request, and storage and stocking difficulties. Nearly a third of respondents reported that they had some level of concern about the safety of immunizations, and 14% reported that concerns about safety were a specific reason for referring. Clinicians who delivered only some of the recommended immunizations were less likely than non-referring clinicians to have adopted evidence-based best immunization practices.
This study of rural clinicians in Oregon demonstrates the prevalence of barriers to primary-care-based immunization delivery in rural regions. While some barriers may be difficult to overcome, others may be amenable to educational outreach and support. Thus, efforts to improve population immunization rates should focus on promoting immunization “best practices” and enhancing the capacity of practices to provide immunizations and assuring that any alternative means of delivering immunizations are effective.
child health; health services; immunizations; primary care; rural
A total of 246 Saskatchewan primary care physicians were contacted to identify those in family practice and doing well baby care; 65 urban and 44 rural physicians were surveyed.
The urban physicians had similar practice patterns, attitudes and approaches to developmental surveillance, except that Regina physicians saw more patients daily (p<0.005) and 25/29 routinely referred suspected children versus eight of 36 in Saskatoon.
All physicians, rural and urban, relied on their “clinical impressions” to detect a developmentally delayed child. No one regularly used a formal developmental screening test. They cited time, cost and questionable value as major barriers. No one identified a regional child's rehabilitation centre as an assessment or management resource.
Family physicians, regardless of practice location, should tailor their practices to insure early detection and appropriate referral of the developmentally delayed child, thereby minimizing disability and maximizing the child's potential.
To evaluate primary care and specialist physicians' satisfaction with interphysician communication and to identify the major problems in the current referral process.
Surveys were mailed to providers to determine satisfaction with the referral process; then patient-specific surveys were e-mailed to this group to obtain real-time referral information.
Academic tertiary care medical center.
Attending-level primary care physicians (PCPs) and specialists.
MEASUREMENTS AND MAIN RESULTS
The response rate for mail surveys for PCPs was 57% and for specialists was 51%. In the mail survey, 63% of PCPs and 35% of specialists were dissatisfied with the current referral process. Respondents felt that major problems with the current referral system were lack of timeliness of information and inadequate referral letter content. Information considered important by recipient groups was often not included in letters that were sent. The response rate for the referral specific e-mail surveys was 56% for PCPs and 53% for specialists. In this e-mail survey, 68% of specialists reported that they received no information from the PCP prior to specific referral visits, and 38% of these said that this information would have been helpful. In addition, four weeks after specific referral visits, 25% of PCPs had still not received any information from specialists.
Substantial problems were present in the referral process. The major issues were physician dissatisfaction, lack of timeliness, and inadequate content of interphysician communication. Information obtained from the general survey and referral-specific survey was congruent. Efforts to improve the referral system could improve both physician satisfaction and quality of patient care.
ambulatory care; communication; referral and consultation
BACKGROUND: Recent changes in the North American health care system and certain demographic factors have led to increases in home care services. Little information is available to identify the strategies that could facilitate this transformation in medical practice and ensure that such changes respond adequately to patients' needs. As a first step, the authors attempted to identify the major factors influencing physicians' home care practices in the Quebec City area. METHODS: A self-administered questionnaire was sent by mail to all 696 general practitioners working in the Quebec City area. The questionnaire was intended to gather information on physicians' personal and professional characteristics, as well as their home care practice (practice volume, characteristics of both clients and home visits, and methods of patient assessment and follow-up). RESULTS: A total of 487 physicians (70.0%) responded to the questionnaire, 283 (58.1%) of whom reported making home visits. Of these, 119 (42.0%) made fewer than 5 home visits per week, and 88 (31.1%) dedicated 3 hours or less each week to this activity. Physicians in private practice made more home visits than their counterparts in family medicine units and CLSCs (centres locaux des services communautaires [community centres for social and health services]) (mean 11.5 v. 5.8 visits per week), although the 2 groups reported spending about the same amount of time on this type of work (mean 5.6 v. 5.0 hours per week). The proportion of visits to patients in residential facilities or other private residences was greater for private practitioners than for physicians from family medicine units and CLSCs (29.7% v. 18.9% of visits), as were the proportions of visits made at the patient's request (28.0% v. 14.2% of visits) and resulting from an acute condition (21.4% v. 16.0% of visits). The proportion of physicians making home visits at the request of a CLSC was greater for those in family medicine units and CLSCs than for those in private practice (44.0% v. 11.3% of physicians), as was the proportion of physicians making home visits at the request of a colleague (18.0% v. 4.5%) or at the request of hospitals (30.0% v. 6.8%). Physicians in family medicine units and CLSCs did more follow-ups at a frequency of less than once per month than private practitioners (50.9% v. 37.1% of patients), and they treated a greater proportion of patients with cognitive disorders (17.2% v. 12.6% of patients) and palliative care needs (13.7% v. 8.6% of patients). Private practitioners made less use of CLSC resources to assess home patients or follow them. Male private practitioners made more home visits than their female counterparts (mean 12.8 v. 8.3 per week), although they spent an almost equal amount of time on this activity (mean 5.7 v. 5.2 hours per week). INTERPRETATION: These results suggest that practice patterns for home care vary according to the physician's practice setting and sex. Because of foreseeable increases in the numbers of patients needing home care, further research is required to evaluate how physicians' practices can be adapted to patients' needs in this area.
To explore and describe primary care physicians’ experiences in providing
care to depressed patients and to increase understanding of the
possibilities and constraints around diagnosing and treating depression in
Qualitative study using personal interviews.
A hospital region in eastern Canada.
A purposely diverse sample of 20 physicians chosen from among all 100
practising family physicians in the region.
Invitations were mailed to all physicians practising in the region. Twenty
physicians were chosen from among the 39 physicians responding positively to
the invitation. Location of practice, sex, and year of graduation from
medical school were used as sampling criteria. The 20 physicians were then
interviewed, and the interviews were audiotaped and transcribed verbatim.
Data were analyzed using a constant comparative approach involving
handwritten notes on transcripts and themes created using qualitative data
Three themes related to diagnosis emerged. The first concerns use of
checklists. Physicians said they needed an efficient but effective means of
diagnosing depression and often used diagnostic aids, such as checklists.
Some physicians, however, were reluctant to use such aids. The second theme,
interpersonal processes, involved the investment of time needed for
diagnosing depression and the importance of establishing rapport. The final
theme, intuition, revealed how some physicians relied on “gut sense” and
years of experience to make a diagnosis.
Diagnosis of depression by primary care physicians involves a series of often
complicated negotiations with patients. Such negotiations require expertise
gained through experience, yet prior research has not recognized the
intricacies of this diagnostic process. Our findings suggest that future
research must recognize the complex and multidisciplinary nature of
physicians’ approaches to diagnosis of depression in order to better reflect
how they practise.