Title: Primary care orthodontic referrals to hospital services and their usage of orthodontic indices
Objective: To assess the quality, accuracy and suitability of dental referrals to secondary care orthodontic departments at Musgrove Park & Yeovil Hospital.
Methods: Data was collected from 119 patients who were referred within a 3-month period to these hospitals orthodontic departments. Data was collected using patient medical records and analysed.
Results: In total, 36/119 (30.25%) of referrals during this timeframe were rejected. The majority (80.65%) came from general dental surgeons, but rejections did come from specialist orthodontists in a primary setting (13.89%) as well as in orthodontists in hospital and dental access centres (2.78% each). The reasons for rejection included ‘suitability for specialist practice’ (58.33%), ‘too early for referral’ (16.67%), ‘not enough information’ (16.67%), ‘wrong specialism’ (2.78%) and ‘geographic reasons’ (2.78%). From the rejected referrals, 28.13% of the IOTN scores recorded were found to be incorrect. With the majority (88.88%) being from general dentists.
Conclusion: IOTN is not always used correctly, and many dentists may struggle to understand the difference between hospital and primary care orthodontic treatment. Further training and support should be given to local primary care dentists to correctly use IOTN and where to appropriately refer orthodontic cases.