Ophthalmology referrals from optometry: a comparative study (the R.O.C.S study)
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OBJECTIVE: To characterize emergency optometrist referrals triaged at a tertiary ophthalmology care centre by physical examination findings and provisional diagnosis accuracy. DESIGN: Prospective case review. PARTICIPANTS: Consecutive patients referred to a tertiary eye care clinic for an after-hours ocular consult. METHODS: Variables extracted from the patient charts included date of referral, age, sex, eye(s) under examination, referral visual acuity (VA), referral intraocular pressure (IOP), the referring optometrist's provisional diagnosis, VA at the time of the ophthalmologist consultation, IOP at the time of the ophthalmologist consultation, number of days between referral and ophthalmic consultation, and the ophthalmologist's diagnosis. Optometrist VA measures were correlated against ophthalmologist measures for left eye, right eye, diseased eye, and nondiseased eye. The independent t test was used to compare IOP measures between clinicians, and the absolute frequency of agreement between localization of eye pathology was reported. RESULTS: After categorizing disease by anatomic location, absolute agreement between optometrist provisional diagnosis and ophthalmologist diagnosis was 60.0%. Strong correlations were found between optometrist and ophthalmologist VA measurements. IOP measurements were reported less frequently by optometrists. In cases in which referral IOP was documented, no significant difference was observed between clinician measures. CONCLUSIONS: VA and IOP measurements by optometrists are reliable, although IOP measurements were included less frequently in optometrist referrals. Optometrist referrals correctly localized eye pathology in 60.0% of cases. Two cases of retinal tear and 2 cases of retinal detachment, for which a precise reason for referral is ideal, were referred for other reasons.
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