Referral patterns of Israeli pediatricians of common primary care office procedures

Deena R. Zimmerman, Yona Amitai, Zahi Grossman, Chen Stein-Zamir

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations


Background: Pediatric primary care is the cornerstone of health care services for children. Performance of common office procedures is an integral part of primary care. Ideally, the community-based primary care pediatrician provides comprehensive health care services and only refers a small minority of patients for consultation. However, knowledge regarding Israeli pediatricians' practices of office procedures is scant. Objectives: To describe primary care pediatricians' patterns in the provision of common office procedures and to analyze factors associated with performance or referral. Methods: Design: Self-completed structured questionnaire consisting of 1) demographic variables; 2) practice characteristics description; 3) List of ten procedures (treatment of subungual hematoma, laceration suturing and adhesive closure, elbow subluxation/reduction , urinary bladder catheterization, supra-pubic aspiration, inguinal hernia reduction, umbilical granuloma and labial fusion treatment, and short lingual frenulum management) followed by questions regarding referral practice for each procedure; and 4) causes and indications for referral when relevant. Participants: Primary care pediatricians attending anational pediatric conferences. Analysis: Descriptive statistics and association assessment. Results: The questionnaire was completed by 162 primary care pediatricians, 58.7 % male; mean age 53±9 years, 88.4 % board certified. Of the respondents, 57 % worked in group practices and the remainder solo; salaried employees 68.2 %, independent contractors 31.8 %. Referral rate varied by procedure; least likely to be referred was labial fusion (7.7 %) and most likely was short lingual frenulum (81.3 %). For most procedures, the most frequent non-performance cause was lack of expertise followed by lack of appropriate conditions. The overall number of procedures in which the response selected was out-of-clinic referral was not associated with demographic or employment characteristics. However, association was found for certain specific procedures (e.g. experience with catheterization, gender with suturing and adhesive closure). Conclusions:Many common office procedures are referred out of primary care pediatric community settings in Israel. Considerable variability was found among procedures. Lack of experience or lack of appropriate conditions were frequently reported causes for referral and need to be addressed in reducing unnecessary referral with its attendant costs and patient inconvenience. Possible approaches include updates in pediatric residency training, focused in-service training, time allocation and work environment reorganization.

Original languageEnglish
Article number50
JournalIsrael Journal of Health Policy Research
Issue number1
StatePublished - 10 Dec 2015
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
Supported (in part) by a grant from the Israel Ambulatory Pediatric Association (IAPA). Presented (in part) at the IAPA Bi-Annual Meeting, Tel Aviv, Israel, June 25, 2014. We would like to thank Jacob Levine MA and Hanna Shoob MPH for their statistical assistance.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2015 Zimmerman et al.


  • Based medicine
  • Children
  • Community
  • Office procedures
  • Pediatrics
  • Primary care
  • Referrals


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