Optimising the referral request
The Imaging Department is integral to the multidisciplinary team managing a patient’s care. The referrer should therefore aim to involve the Imaging Department early in the care of appropriate patients. The following are useful pointers to get the most from the Imaging Department:
- Make early referrals, e.g. immediately after the ward round when the decision for an imaging referral has been made, thereby ensuring the Imaging Department can manage the referral request promptly and efficiently.
- The referrer must be familiar with the indications for investigation and have a specific question to be answered by the investigation when making the referral or when discussing with the radiographer or radiologist.
- The referrer must have considered the contraindications and risks related to radiation and iodinated intravenous contrast agents before making the referral.
- Multidisciplinary team meetings are useful forums to gain comprehensive feedback from the radiologists on referred cases.
- Radiologists are often very broadly experienced clinicians and can therefore offer a wide-ranging expert opinion on diagnosis and management when consulted appropriately.
The radiology referral request
The referral request form is a legal document, whether in paper or electronic format. The referrer carries the responsibility to ensure that the correct and complete information is conveyed to the Imaging Department so that patients are appropriately diagnosed and managed. The core information that must be communicated includes:
- Patient identification details: The most important point on any checklist is checking that the correct patient receives the correct investigation or procedure. The referrer must ensure that the Imaging Department receives the correct identification details of the patient to be investigated. The essentials are:
- full name
- date of birth
- hospital identification number.
- full name
- Clinical status: The referrer must convey the patient’s clinical condition and urgency of the referral to the Imaging Department. If there is doubt the referrer should consult the radiologist.
- Patient mobility: