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For GPs - tips to assist with triaging referrals


A clear story helps with the triaging process so we can really “see” the patient.

This includes considering questions like why you want us to see your patient? What question do you want answered? What are you and the patient hoping will happen as a result of the appointment? When are you writing your referral?

Here are some tips that might assist to make a referral more effective:

  • Clear timeframes (weeks/months).
  • Significant family history, including relationship and how old the relative was at the time of onset of the medical condition.
  • Impact on function and quality of life.
  • Significant negatives in terms of symptoms (eg no change in bowel habit, no weight loss).
  • Medications/other management which have already been trialled, and how successful or unsuccessful they were and why.
  • Other relevant details such as frailty, mobility, general level of fitness, hearing or vision impaired (to assist with provision of care).
  • Relevant investigation results, both positive and negative.
  • Smoking and alcohol use.
  • Other co-morbidities such as chronic pain, obesity (in relation to whether bariatric facilities are available in the institution to which you are referring), mental health if there is a significant level of disability.
  • Cultural aspects including whether an interpreter needed? Does gender matter? What is the patient’s first language?
  • Any special considerations? Such as transport, carer availability etc.

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