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Colorectal bowel disease

ADULT

If any of the following are present or suspected, please refer the patient to the emergency department (via ambulance if necessary) or seek emergent medical advice if in a remote region.


  • Suspected strangulated/incarcerated or obstruction of any hernia
  • Acute, severe abdominal pain with or without associated sepsis
  • New onset of obstructive jaundice
  • Acute painful perianal conditions
  • Acute cholecystitis
  • Gallstones with symptoms of cholangitis
  • Acute pancreatitis
  • Bowel obstruction
  • Severe per rectum bleeding
  • Acute abscess at any site
  • Acute testicular pain

  • Refer to HealthPathways or local guidelines
  • Lifestyle modification (increased activity, dietary, weight, smoking, alcohol)
  • Correct iron deficiency and anaemia if possible
  • Routine follow-up of patients on treatments for IBD
  • Change in symptoms should initiate reassessment of previous results

Minimum Referral Criteria

  • Category 1
    (appointment within 30 calendar days)
    • Diagnosed malignancies
    • Palpable or visible anorectal mass
    • IBD
    • Recent significant unexplained weight loss
    • GI obstructive symptoms
    • Colovesical or colovaginal fistula
    • FOBT positive
    • Rectal bleeding with any of the following concerning features:
      • Dark blood coating or mixed with stool
      • Weight loss, ≥5% of body weight in previous 6 months
      • Abdominal / rectal mass
      • Iron deficiency in males and postmenopausal women or unexplained iron deficiency in premenopausal women
      • Patient and family history of bowel cancer (1st degree relative <55 years old)
  • Category 2
    (appointment within 90 calendar days)
    • Chronic ongoing colorectal problems
    • Recurrent diarrhoea
    • Diverticular disease for evaluation
    • Rectal bleeding without any concerning features as articulated in category 1
  • Category 3
    (appointment within 365 calendar days)
    • Pruritus ani

1. Reason for request Indicate on the referral

  • To establish a diagnosis
  • For treatment or intervention
  • For advice and management
  • For specialist to take over management
  • Reassurance for GP/second opinion
  • For a specified test/investigation the GP can't order, or the patient can't afford or access
  • Reassurance for the patient/family
  • For other reason (e.g. rapidly accelerating disease progression)
  • Clinical judgement indicates a referral for specialist review is necessary

2. Essential referral information Referral will be returned without this

  • Specific family history of gastrointestinal malignancy, polyposis or IBD
  • Previous gastroenterologist investigations and results (date, report and histology results) e.g. last 2-3 clinic letters
  • History of weight loss and/or ascites
  • History of bowel function:
    • altered bowel habit
    • rectal tenesmus
    • incomplete rectal emptying
    • PR blood, pus or mucus
    • flatus
    • mass
  • Co-morbid conditions and other risk factors
  • FBC LFT U&E results
  • CEA results if diagnosis of cancer suspected

3. Additional referral information Useful for processing the referral

  • Relevant imaging report/s
  • CT of chest, abdomen and pelvis results
  • Virtual CT report
  • Any positive DRE findings and perianal condition
  • Previous Colonscopy and polypectomy results
  • Biopsy results
  • FOBT results

4. Request

Patient's Demographic Details

  • Full name (including aliases)
  • Date of birth
  • Residential and postal address
  • Telephone contact number/s – home, mobile and alternative
  • Medicare number (where eligible)
  • Name of the parent or caregiver (if appropriate)
  • Preferred language and interpreter requirements
  • Identifies as Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander

Referring Practitioner Details

  • Full name
  • Full address
  • Contact details – telephone, fax, email
  • Provider number
  • Date of referral
  • Signature

Relevant clinical information about the condition

  • Presenting symptoms (evolution and duration)
  • Physical findings
  • Details of previous treatment (including systemic and topical medications prescribed) including the course and outcome of the treatment
  • Body mass index (BMI)
  • Details of any associated medical conditions which may affect the condition or its treatment (e.g. diabetes), noting these must be stable and controlled prior to referral
  • Current medications and dosages
  • Drug allergies
  • Alcohol, tobacco and other drugs use

Reason for request

  • To establish a diagnosis
  • For treatment or intervention
  • For advice and management
  • For specialist to take over management
  • Reassurance for GP/second opinion
  • For a specified test/investigation the GP can't order, or the patient can't afford or access
  • Reassurance for the patient/family
  • For other reason (e.g. rapidly accelerating disease progression)
  • Clinical judgement indicates a referral for specialist review is necessary

Clinical modifiers

  • Impact on employment
  • Impact on education
  • Impact on home
  • Impact on activities of daily living
  • Impact on ability to care for others
  • Impact on personal frailty or safety
  • Identifies as Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander

Other relevant information

  • Willingness to have surgery (where surgery is a likely intervention)
  • Choice to be treated as a public or private patient
  • Compensable status (e.g. DVA, Work Cover, Motor Vehicle Insurance, etc.)
  • Please note that where appropriate and where available, the referral may be streamed to an associated public allied health and/or nursing service.  Access to some specific services may include initial assessment and management by associated public allied health and/or nursing, which may either facilitate or negate the need to see the public medical specialist.

  • A change in patient circumstance (such as condition deteriorating, or becoming pregnant) may affect the urgency categorisation and should be communicated as soon as possible.

  • Please indicate in the referral if the patient is unable to access mandatory tests or investigations as they incur a cost or are unavailable locally.