Objective A peer review study was carried out to assess the written communication between consultants and specialist registrars in restorative dentistry with the referring general dental practitioners.
Methods Seven people took part in the study and each presented referral and reply letters for five patients whom they had seen for consultation. The referral letters were used for information only and were not used in the peer review process. Each participant inspected the referral and reply letters from the other six participants. The reply letters were anonymously peer reviewed by using a proforma containing agreed criteria in relation to appropriate factors to include in the reply letter. The reviewer also ranked the letter in relation to overall quality on a 1-10 point scale.
Results It was found that the participants' letters generally conformed positively with the agreed criteria although there were some differences between individuals. There were particular problems identified in relation to tooth notation. Reply letters commonly used different forms of tooth notation to the referring practitioners.
Conclusions The ranking of the letters generally indicated that the participants' replies were judged to be favourable by their peers. There may be scope for continuing this study in relation to peer review by other groups of professionals, in particular practitioners in primary dental care.