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The performance of senior house officers (SHOs) and their advisers in accident and emergency departments was compared in the diagnosis of abdominal pain in 711 patients. Accuracy of diagnosis was 63 per cent for advisers and 54 per cent for SHOs. Overall, the adviser improves the diagnosis of the SHO in only 6 per cent of cases. The SHOs refer accurately in 94 per cent of cases, and the advisers improve the SHO referrals in only 1 per cent of patients. It is argued that the time-consuming process of calling a surgeon away from a ward or theatre to advise in the receiving room is of little value, and avoidance of this step would enable patients to be admitted more rapidly.

Original publication




Journal article


Br J Surg

Publication Date





1173 - 1175


Abdomen, Acute, Clinical Competence, Emergency Service, Hospital, England, Humans, Medical Staff, Hospital, Medicine, Referral and Consultation, Specialization