This study assessed the effect of patients' presenting conditions on general practitioners' (GPs') self-reported endodontic referral patterns, and compared GPs' perceived indications for referral with those of endodontists. The study was based on a self-administered, confidential survey distributed to 79 GPs and 7 endodontists who provide care to members of one Dental HMO in the Pacific Northwest GPs were most likely to recommend referral for teeth they felt needed surgical retreatment, but GPs and endodontists did not always agree on indications for referral. Compared with GPs, endodontists were more likely to recommend referral for patients with complex problems, but not necessarily technically difficult teeth. Compared with those with less experience, GPs with more than 10 yr both in dentistry and at this HMO were more likely to recommend (a) referring difficult cases rather than performing endodontic therapy themselves and (b) extracting perforated or root-fractured teeth prior to obturation rather than continuing treatment. Indications for referral that maximize favorable dental outcomes need to be identified.
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