Referral patterns to a pediatric orthopedic clinic: Pediatric orthopedic surgeons are primary care musculoskeletal medicine physicians

Tommy Pan, Alexander J. Kish, William L. Hennrikus

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


In 2004, Reeder and in 2012, Schwend reported that inappropriate nonsurgical referrals to pediatric orthopedic clinics create a misuse of resources. Additional authors have called for re-emphasis and additional training in musculoskeletal medicine for primary care physicians (PCP) to improve the confidence, knowledge and performance when managing musculoskeletal conditions. The current study compares the diagnoses referred to a pediatric orthopedic clinic with diagnoses recommended for referral by the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) guidelines to determine if any improvement in the quality of referrals has occurred since Reeder and Schwend's article. A chart review of new referrals to a pediatric orthopedic clinic during a 3-month-period was performed. Data were collected on age, sex, referring diagnosis, referral source, final diagnosis and treatment. In total 230 new consults were evaluated. The referral source was a PCP in 169 (73.5%) cases, 30 (13%) self-referrals by a parent, 19 (8.3%) from another orthopedic surgeon, 9 (3.9%) from a neurologist and 3 (1.3%) from another specialist. Fifty percent of referrals met the criteria outlined in the AAP guidelines for referral to a pediatric orthopedic specialist and 48% were classified as primary care musculoskeletal conditions. During the 15 years since the publication of Reeder's study and despite a limited re-emphasis on musculoskeletal education, the percent of inappropriate referrals to a pediatric orthopedic clinic remains unchanged at 50%. We support an expanded musculoskeletal educational effort aimed at the medical, resident and pediatrician level, online decision-making aids, and implementation of a standardized referral form with the specific criteria of the AAP included.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)613-618
Number of pages6
JournalJournal of Pediatric Orthopaedics Part B
Issue number6
StatePublished - Nov 1 2022

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health
  • Orthopedics and Sports Medicine


Dive into the research topics of 'Referral patterns to a pediatric orthopedic clinic: Pediatric orthopedic surgeons are primary care musculoskeletal medicine physicians'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this