Examining Referral Patterns between Otolaryngology and Gastroenterology: A Window into Potential Inter-Specialty Knowledge Gaps

Adam Haines, Nikita Kohli, Benjamin A. Lerner, Michael Z. Lerner

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


Objective: The objective of this study was to examine referral patterns between otolaryngology and gastroenterology in order to delineate areas of clinical overlap, as well as to identify areas that might benefit from improved inter-specialty communication and collaboration. Methods: Montefiore’s Clinical Looking Glass tool was used to define parameters for electronic medical record data extraction from 2015 to 2018. Two cohorts were generated, one representing referrals placed by gastroenterology to otolaryngology and a second representing referrals placed by otolaryngology to gastroenterology. The ICD-10 codes in both cohorts were reviewed and 13 distinct “reason for referral” categories were defined. The rates of referral for each category were then calculated for each of the referral cohorts. Results: Otolaryngology referred to gastroenterology at a greater rate than gastroenterology referred to otolaryngology, despite seeing fewer total patients than gastroenterology. For referrals from gastroenterology to otolaryngology, the three most frequent referral reasons were oral cavity/oropharyngeal pathology (28.3%), dysphagia (28.3%), and gastroesophageal reflux disease/laryngopharyngeal reflux disease (GERD/LPRD) (11.3%). For referrals from otolaryngology to gastroenterology, the three most frequent referral reasons were GERD/LPRD (61.7%), dysphagia (18.6%), and esophageal pathology (5.3%). Conclusions: GERD/LPRD was more frequently referred out by otolaryngology than it was by gastroenterology, suggesting the need for further characterization of the discrepancy in management of a disease commonly treated by both specialties. The discrepant rates of referral for dysphagia also suggest a need to better understand what factors contribute to the differences in management of another clinical condition commonly assessed by both specialties.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)801-805
Number of pages5
JournalAnnals of Otology, Rhinology and Laryngology
Issue number8
StatePublished - Aug 1 2020


  • gastroenterology
  • gastroesophageal reflux disease
  • inter-specialty referral
  • laryngopharyngeal reflux disease
  • multidisciplinary approach
  • referral patterns

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Otorhinolaryngology


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