In a two-physician general practice within 80 km of two university medical centers, there were 4,367 patient visits in six months, from which 233 referrals (5.3%) were made to consultants. All referred patients were accompanied by referral material and a request for follow-up information. The overall rate of receiving follow-up information was 62%. Private specialists provided substantially more follow-up information (78%) than either university-affiliated emergency rooms (48%) or university-affiliated specialty clinics (59%). Patients requiring continuing medical supervision from the referring physician also fared poorly: follow-up information for them was provided only 54% of the time. The timeliness and method of providing follow-up information were examined and believed to be satisfactory when follow-up information was returned.
(JAMA 243:1650-1652, 1980)