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Ahmed, A,Marginan, A,Sweeney, K,Malone, C,McLaughlin, R,Kerin, M
2016
February
Irish Journal Of Medical Science
Medicolegal implications of accuracy of GP referral letters to specialist breast clinic
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Symptoms Breast cancer Interval cancer GP Medicolegal SCREENING MAMMOGRAPHY CANCER DIAGNOSIS DELAY WOMEN RISK
185
69
73
Background Referrals to symptomatic breast clinics have increased significantly in recent years with unchanged numbers of detected cancers. The general practitioner (GP) referral information relating to this increased patient volume causes anxiety and potentially creates confusion and future medicolegal issues if inaccurate.Aims To compare GP triage category requests and clinical findings with those determined by the breast centre.Methods 1,014 consecutive referrals to a symptomatic breast service were included. GP triage request category and clinical findings were prospectively recorded and compared to cancer centre surgeon triage category, clinical findings and cancer detection rates.Results GPs requested urgent appointments for 49 % of referrals, only 22 % were considered urgent on triage at the cancer centre. The triage category request was downgraded in 56 % of referrals from urgent to routine. Thirty-three cancers were detected, representing 3 % of referrals. Eighty-eight percent of cancers were identified in the group with positive clinical findings at the breast clinic. 24 % of the new referrals were for mastalgia alone. In the 55 % of referred cases where GPs reported a clinical abnormality, only 39 % of these had a clinical finding confirmed by the breast surgeon.Conclusions There is poor correlation between GP triage category request and those assigned by the breast unit. GP referrals indicating patients with a clinical abnormality was discordant with specialist findings in 61% of cases. The frequency of overstating of clinical findings by GPs is such that subsequent cancer diagnosis does not imply failure of a preceding triple assessment process.
10.1007/s11845-014-1223-z
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