We sought to identify changes in the quality of information in referrals to an old age psychiatry service before and after the introduction of the single assessment process. Referrals were compared in terms of length, legibility, information and clinical utility.
Compared with letters before the introduction of the single assessment process, referrals made on the new forms took longer to read (mean 96 v. 124 s, P=0.001), had more illegible sections (P=0.011), contained less information (P=0.026) and were judged to be less clinically useful (P=0.001).
The introduction of the single assessment process has impaired clinical communication between general practitioners and psychiatrists, and might be prejudicial to patient care.
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