Junior doctor survival kit
Making the hospital work for you: requesting specialty reviews
The second in a series of articles takes you through how to make an appropriate referral
A common task for a medical student or junior doctor is the referral of their team’s patients to other specialists within the hospital. This could be to get an opinion, ask them to take over the patient’s management, or both. Securing the correct information within the right time frame is important for ensuring clinical effectiveness, patient safety, and a smoothly run ward.
No international or national protocols for reviews exist, and each hospital deals with requests for specialty reviews differently. This can lead to a lack of clarity and an unstructured approach to referrals. Errors and poor interdisciplinary communication can occur in the process. Requests could go missing and information might be inappropriate or neglected. At these moments patient care suffers, and unnecessary harm can be done. One study compared senior doctors’ requests with those written by medical students who had been educated in core communication principles. The study showed