Referral patterns from emergency department to otolaryngology clinic

Jonathan C. Garneau, Isaac Wasserman, Neeraja Konuthula, Benjamin D. Malkin

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

12 Scopus citations


Objectives/Hypothesis: Patients who present to the emergency department (ED) with various otolaryngologic disorders are frequently referred to an otolaryngologist for follow-up care. Our aim was to further characterize this group as it has not been well described in the literature. Study Design: Cross-sectional retrospective study. Methods: We reviewed the charts of patients seen during an 18-month period in an urban public hospital trauma center adult ED and referred to an otolaryngology clinic for follow-up care. Results: Seven hundred thirty-eight patients were seen and referred; the most common diagnoses made by ED providers were peripheral vertigo (12%), otitis externa (8%), and nasal fractures (8%). Nine percent of patients were evaluated during their ED visit by an otolaryngology provider. Three hundred seventy-two (50%) patients returned for their otolaryngology clinic visit; facial trauma patients were least likely to return. The most common diagnoses made by otolaryngology providers were otitis externa (12%), peripheral vertigo (12%), and nasal fractures (7%). There was 50% concordance between patients’ diagnoses made by ED and otolaryngology providers. The most common differences were otitis media versus otitis externa (10%) and acute pharyngitis versus laryngopharyngeal reflux (8%). During 37% of follow-up visits, an in-office procedure was performed, most commonly flexible fiberoptic laryngoscopy, cerumen removal, and nasal endoscopy. Conclusions: Our analysis reports comprehensive characteristics of this referral group, identifying potential areas for improvement in patient management, resident education and efficiency. Otolaryngologists covering EDs should be familiar with this population in terms of types of cases that may affect their practices. Level of Evidence: 4. Laryngoscope, 128:1062–1067, 2018.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1062-1067
Number of pages6
Issue number5
StatePublished - May 2018


  • Referrals
  • emergency department


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