Timely ophthalmologic consultation is important to ensure patients receive high quality ophthalmologic care in the Emergency Department (ED). Tele-ophthalmology may prove useful in safely and efficiently managing ED eye-related complaints. Prior to implementing such a solution, current consultation patterns must be understood. We aimed to assess case-mix acuity and consultation workflow patterns in the ophthalmology consult service at a tertiary emergency department in New York City. The medical records of patients with eye-related complaints who presented to the ED between January 1, 2015 and December 31, 2015 were reviewed. Visits were retrospectively assigned acuities and the ophthalmologic subspecialty involved in the case was recorded. The number of ophthalmologic consultations ordered and consultant response times were analyzed. Patients who were transferred to the ED for eye-related complaints were included. The ED received 1090 eye-related complaints in this period. 60% were retrospectively assigned low acuity, 27% were assigned medium acuity, and 13% were assigned high acuity. Ophthalmology was consulted on 19% of low, 18% of medium, and 48% of high acuity cases. 44% of complaints involved the anterior segment and 30% involved oculoplastics. 2/3 of transfer patients initially assigned high acuity were downgraded to low acuity upon examination. On average, the consult note was created and signed within 109 and 153 min, respectively, after consult order. ED consults are heavily weighted towards pathology of low-to-medium acuity affecting the anterior segment and ocular adnexa. Currently available tele-ophthalmology technology can potentially address a large volume of eye-related visits.
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