Factors influencing accuracy of referral and the likelihood of false positive referral by optometrists in Bradford, United Kingdom.

Research paper by Christopher James CJ Davey, Andrew J AJ Scally, Clare C Green, Edwin S ES Mitchell, David B DB Elliott

Indexed on: 29 Nov '15Published on: 29 Nov '15Published in: Journal of Optometry


Levels of false positive referral to ophthalmology departments can be high. This study aimed to evaluate commonality between false positive referrals in order to find the factors which may influence referral accuracy.In 2007/08, a sample of 431 new Ophthalmology referrals from the catchment area of Bradford Royal Infirmary were retrospectively analysed.The proportion of false positive referrals generated by optometrists decreases with experience at a rate of 6.2% per year since registration (p<0.0001). Community services which involved further investigation done by the optometrist before directly referring to the hospital were 2.7 times less likely to refer false positively than other referral formats (p=0.007). Male optometrists were about half as likely to generate a false positive referral than females (OR=0.51, p=0.008) and as multiple/corporate practices in the Bradford area employ less experienced and more female staff, independent practices generate about half the number of false positive referrals (OR=0.52, p=0.005).Clinician experience has the greatest effect on referral accuracy although there is also a significant effect of gender with women tending to refer more false positives. This may be due to a different approach to patient care and possibly a greater sensitivity to litigation. The improved accuracy of community services (which often refer directly after further investigation) supports further growth of these schemes.