Non-communication between ophthalmologists and optometrists

J R Soc Med. 1999 May;92(5):247-8. doi: 10.1177/014107689909200509.


Many patients seen in the British hospital eye service are referred by high-street optometrists; and, if the optometrist is to receive feedback from the ophthalmologist, the patient should consent to disclosure of medical information. On the referral form (revised GOS 18) there is a space for this purpose. We investigated the level of communication by asking optometrists in our hospital catchment area about their use of the GOS 18 form and by examining the medical records of all new patients seen in the eye outpatient department in one month. 79 optometrists (55%) returned the questionnaire. 54 routinely used the GOS 18; and, of these, 10 said they obtained patient consent always, 23 sometimes and 21 never. 158 of 555 sets of medical notes contained an optometrist's referral, 107 of them on the revised GOS 18; and patient consent had been recorded on 17 of these forms. Ophthalmologists responded to the optometrist in 2/17 (12%) cases where consent had been obtained and 15/90 (17%) where it had not. Ophthalmologists could provide much better feedback to optometrists. The GOS 18 form could be used more effectively; and there is no reason why patient consent to disclosure of medical information should not be obtained by ophthalmologists as well as by optometrists.

MeSH terms

  • Communication*
  • Humans
  • Informed Consent*
  • Ophthalmology*
  • Optometry*
  • Referral and Consultation
  • United Kingdom