Physician referral practices for prenatal diagnosis in Los Angeles County

A study of 172 obstetricians in Los Angeles County was undertaken for the purpose of assessing to what extent their knowledge, education, experience and personal beliefs influence prenatal diagnosis referral. Four hundred questionnaires were sent to randomly sampled physicians in Los Angeles County in September of 1983. Forty-three percent of those surveyed responded to the questionnaire. Referral practices were analyzed with respect to obstetrical board certification, religion, current referral and non-referral practices, number of years in practice, and use of a prenatal genetic screening questionnaire for obstetrical patients. Findings showed that 80.2% of these obstetricians were board certified, they practiced obstetrics for an average of 19 years, 98% referred for prenatal diagnosis, their personal beliefs and religion played an insignificant role in their referral practices, and accepted medical guidelines predominated in patient management for genetic services. The study group indicated a willingness to utilize a genetic screening questionnaire for their prenatal patients. Concerns were expressed regarding cost, availability, medical-legal implications and awareness of indications as factors in the referral of patients for prenatal diagnosis.