A Triage System for Referrals of Pediatric Skull Deformities

Hansje Boelhouwer, LJ (Linda) Treharne, Irene Mathijssen

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9 Citations (Scopus)


The clinical pathways for craniosynostosis and nonsynostotic skull deformity are entirely different. At the Dutch Craniofacial Center (DCFC), all patients were assessed in the same multidisciplinary craniofacial clinic, a common practice in countries with developed health care. However, the high volume of referrals of nonsynostotic cases frequently resulted in the capacity of these clinics being exceeded, with some patients being assessed in the general pediatric plastic surgery clinic instead. In these general clinics, not all the multidisciplinary team members are routinely present, so patients with craniosynostosis had to make a second journey for further assessment, causing inconvenience, expense, and potential delay in treatment. With triage at the community level unreliable and triage at clinic level inefficient, we decided to trial a triage system to increase efficiency and to ensure patients enter the correct clinical pathway earlier. The 2 craniofacial secretaries were issued with a flowchart to be completed for each new referral. The flowcharts were designed to triage the patients into true craniosynostosis with an appointment for the multidisciplinary clinic or nonsynostotic deformity with an appointment with the craniofacial nurse practitioner (CNP). During a 3-month period, 107 referrals were made. The triage category listed on the initial flowchart for each patient was compared, with the final diagnosis made in the multidisciplinary and CNP clinics. None of the patients triaged as nonsynostotic deformity on the flowcharts were found to be true craniosynostosis after clinical assessment by the CNP. Radiographic assessment or assessment by the craniofacial surgeons in the DCFC confirmed this. The flowchart questionnaire used at the DCFC is a highly sensitive and therefore safe method for detecting craniosynostosis. It has helped to improve efficiency by ensuring patients are seen in an appropriate setting.
Original languageUndefined/Unknown
Pages (from-to)242-245
Number of pages4
JournalJournal of Craniofacial Surgery
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2009

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