Aim: To assess a model for cardiology assessments in children with suspected heart disease by a general paediatrician with special expertise in paediatric cardiology (PsePC) in a district general hospital.
Methods: A new monthly “screening” clinic was established in May 2004 by the PsePC to reduce the burden of new referrals on outreach tertiary paediatric cardiology services. All patients were to have echocardiograms as part of their referral for cardiac assessment. Over a one year period (May 2004–April 2005), through audit, details of referrers, indications for referral, echocardiography assessments, and subsequent management were recorded. This was compared with the pattern of patients seen in the joint paediatric cardiology outreach clinics over a two year period (May 2003–April 2005).
Results: In the “screening” clinic, there were 75 appointments for 65 patients seen in 12 months. Fifty five of these patients had normal echocardiographic studies. Of the 47 referrals with heart murmurs in asymptomatic children, four had structurally abnormal hearts on echocardiographic assessment. Between May–October 2003 and November 2003–April 2004, the number of new patients with normal echocardiographic studies seen in the paediatric cardiology outreach clinic was 33/106 (31%) and 28/110 (25.4%) respectively. Following the introduction of the “screening” clinic, the number decreased to 21/99 (21%) during May–October 2004, and 10/102 (9.8%) during November 2004–April 2005.
Conclusion: This model can work effectively in order to identify pathology requiring input of a paediatric cardiologist more appropriately. Paediatricians with specific training in paediatric cardiology are potentially well equipped to provide this basic screening service.
- paediatric cardiology
- heart murmur
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Published Online First 22 May 2006
Competing interests: None declared.