Purpose: To evaluate accuracy of referrals from multidisciplinary stroke teams requesting visual assessments.
Patients and methods: Multicentre prospective study undertaken in 20 acute Trust hospitals. Stroke survivors referred with suspected visual difficulty were recruited. Standardised screening/referral and investigation forms were used to document data on referral signs and symptoms, plus type and extent of visual impairment.
Results: Referrals for 799 patients were reviewed: 60% men, 40% women. Mean age at onset of stroke was 69 years (SD 14: range 1-94 years). Signs recorded by referring staff were nil in 58% and positive in the remainder. Symptoms were recorded in 87%. Diagnosis of visual impairment was nil in 8% and positive in the remainder. Sensitivity of referrals (on the basis of signs detected) was calculated as 0.42 with specificity of 0.52. Kappa statistical evaluation of agreement between referral and diagnosis of visual impairment was 0.428 (SE 0.017: 95% confidence interval of -0.048, 0.019).
Conclusion: More than half of patient referrals were made despite no signs of visual difficulty being recorded by the referring staff. Visual impairment of varying severity was diagnosed in 92% of stroke survivors referred for visual assessment. Referrals were made based predominantly on visual symptoms and because of formal orthoptic liaison in Trusts involved.