Tracking Referrals 

When referring a patient to a specialist, you should have a mechanism in place to alert you if a consultation report is not received back in a timely manner. If it was important enough for the patient to see a specialist, then receiving the consultation report is of equal importance. An adequate tracking system can help reduce risks and help you provide safe, high-quality care. The tracking system can be manual or electronic.

Here are tips for tracking referrals:

  • Monitor and regularly update your tracking system.
  • Keep a copy of the referral in a tickler file, and destroy the copy when the report has been received.
  • Log all referrals, and document in your log when the consult report is received.
  • Schedule return appointments for all patients who have been referred to specialists. This will not only ensure the patient has seen the specialist but also give you an opportunity to discuss the findings with the patient.
  • Contact patients who have missed follow-up visits to make sure that they saw the specialist.
  • Follow up with the specialist’s office if you don’t receive a consultation report.
  • Cross-train your office staff so that your system is reliable and efficient.

Consultation reports should be reviewed, initialed, and dated by the physician before they are filed in the medical record.

The guidelines suggested here are not rules, do not constitute legal advice, and do not ensure a successful outcome. The ultimate decision regarding the appropriateness of any treatment must be made by each healthcare provider considering the circumstances of the individual situation and in accordance with the laws of the jurisdiction in which the care is rendered.


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