The word konsiliarisch is used, for instance, in hospitals when a doctor sends his patient to another branch or medical specialty for some specific examination. You will later return to your actual doctor for further examinations or a discussion about the findings.

That means, your doctor consults another doctor. My question is now what is it called when you go to that other doctor.

I guess I'm looking for an adjectival form for consultation or to consult, which I think is neither consulting nor consulted in that context.

Bilingual dictionaries suggest consiliary. But I don't find it in any monolingual dictionaries to prove that (I checked Merriam-Webster's and Oxford's Online dictionaries).

The adjective should for example fit in the following sentences:

I am having a __ examination.
My appointment is on a __ basis.


I think it's necessary to elaborate a bit more on this.
In Germany when you visit the general practitioner, you may be referred to a specialist. In that case, you receive a latter of referral.
This, however, is not what I'm asking about.

The situation is that you already have been referred to a specialist, and this specialist is working in either a common/shared doctor's office/surgery, or in a hospital or another kind of association (not sure if association is a good word in this context, but I'll stay with this), he may consult another doctor of the same office or association.
Each of the doctor's have there own patient files for sure (in case of a hospital they usually can access those files from the other specialists though), but they don't need a separate letter of referral if you're already seeing another doctor of the same association.

An example:
You visit a dermatologist and he needs some examination which is done by an internist. Thus he'll sends you to the internist. The internist will do the examination and send the findings back to the dermatologist. You will then visit the dermatologist again, and he will tell you the findings and/or do some further examinations.

All what happens is that you go once (or if necessary twice) to another doctor at the same premises, who has a different specialty, and later you go back to the first doctor.

In German there are different terms for both kinds of referral/consultation.

a) Überweisung -> "Haben sie einen Überweisungsschein?" (Do you have a letter of referral?)
b) Konsil -> "Diese Untersuchung wird konsiliarisch durchgeführt." (This examination will be conducted [word in question].)

If this concept doesn't exist in any English speaking country (and hence, there's no word for it), I think I'm looking for a good term that wouldn't be confused with a regular referral.

  • I'm not sure if there is an English equivalent - it would be consultatory, but I'm fairly sure that doesn't exist. I would say 'I am going for a consultation'. Sep 1, 2014 at 11:46
  • 1
    I'd go for consultative, if I had to; but certainly British English tends not to use an adjective here.
    – Andrew Leach
    Sep 1, 2014 at 11:50
  • 2
    Consultation is increasingly being used in an adjectival function. There should be no problem, esp., in the domain-specific sense as in this case.
    – Kris
    Sep 1, 2014 at 12:12
  • A potential answer might be found in the question of Why do “consulting engineers” advise, not consult?
    – tchrist
    Sep 1, 2014 at 14:07
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    Is this even the right word though? In Australia we would say our doctor has "referred us to a specialist". "for a consul... examination" wouldn't mean anything whichever word you choose.
    – Neil W
    Sep 1, 2014 at 15:07

2 Answers 2


Consultatory exists, but I'd probably go for consultative. From the Oxford English Dictionary:

Consultatory: pertaining to or serving for consultation (e.g. of an oracle, etc.); having the character of consultation or deliberation, consultative.

1600 Abp. Abbot Exp. Jonah 80 Here the lot is consultatorie+because they could not tell who it was that had done the deede, they will put it to their Gods. 1664 Evelyn Sylva (1776) 168 Formerly they made consultatory staves of this tree. 1876 Bancroft Hist. U.S. III. viii. 395 Their decision would be only consultatory, and have no more weight than royal instructions.

Consultative: of or pertaining to consultation; having the right or power to advise or join in consultation; deliberative, advisory: said chiefly of a body whose function is to take part in a consultation, but not to vote upon the decision.

1583 Stubbes Anat. Abus. ii. 107 To have a consultatiue, exhortatiue, or consentatiue voice onely. 1846 Grote Greece i. xx. II. 91 The Council is a purely consultative body assembled+solely for his information and guidance. 1878 Gladstone Prim. Homer 117 In this consultative and executive body, discussion is quite free.

  • Despite the OP’s request for such, I don’t think this calls for an adjective, given how long and ungainly the existing choices are. Using a noun adjunct seems the best course.
    – tchrist
    Sep 1, 2014 at 12:44
  • @tchrist: Well, a consultation examination? Rather awkward. I would just use consultation followed by nothing in most cases, probably; but, if I had to pick an attribute, I would prefer an adjective (cf. style guides), and I think consultative is acceptable. Sep 1, 2014 at 15:31
  • Consultative or if you're among lawyers, of counsel. Sep 1, 2014 at 16:47
  • @JohnLawler: Sure, I like prepositional phrases like the next guy. Sep 1, 2014 at 23:03

When one doctor refers you to another’s practice, it’s called getting a referral from one doctor to the next. Under many American health insurance policies, specialists may be seen only with a documented referral from your general practitioner. I imagine you could therefore get by with calling it a referral visit.

However, when one doctor themself confers with another regarding your case, it’s (informally) called having a consult in abbreviated med-lingo. Although it strikes me as somewhat ungainly using consult as a noun not a verb, clipped trade lingo often evolves along these lines.


It appears that the OP may be asking for a different kind of visit than a referral, more of a one-and-done visit where you see a second physician just once and then return to the original one for continued care.

Andrew makes the observation that British English tends not to use an adjective there, which I believe to be true outside of Britain also.

At the risk of relying too much of on the popularity of a particular phrase, here is a Google N-Gram comparing several possible ways of modifying visit in published books:

Google N-Gram comparing various possible kinds of visit

Neither consultatory visit nor consult visit occurs in their database. Interestingly, if you switch it from checking all English to checking only (what it sometimes somewhat dubiously decides is) British English, everything but consultative visit disappears.

This supports the notion that a consultation visit is the only form found in British English, but that consultative visit is possible in other forms of English, where even there it appears to be more popular than either of consulting visit or referral visit.

Searching COCA turns up none of these in collocation immediately before visit. However, this is not completely surprising considering the size of COCA and because COCA is not a specifically medical corpus.

However, searching PubMed, which is specifically a biomedical research corpus and much larger besides, produces more interesting results. There, searching for referral visit yields ten journal articles compared with just one for consultative visit.

I was unable to find any of the others mentioned above in PMC. You might also try Andrew’s indirect suggestion of a consulting visit, but this too fails to occur in PubMed.

  • 1
    I see your point, but I assume "referral" is rather about when a G.P. refers you to a specialist and you won't come back to the G.P. (with regard to your current matter). It seems to me that "referral visit" would likely be understood wrongly. It's really about a one-time visit of another specialist (you often don't even need a letter of referral, because both doctors are working for the same hospital but just for a difference specialty), and you'll return to the first doctor after that one-time visit.
    – Em1
    Sep 1, 2014 at 13:28
  • @Em1 Oh, I see. I haven’t heard of the one-time visit to a specialist before returning to the first doctor for the rest of your care. At least, not outside the referral system.
    – tchrist
    Sep 1, 2014 at 13:37
  • I've just updated my question to clarify a bit more what I'm referring to. Maybe it makes a bit more sense now?
    – Em1
    Sep 1, 2014 at 17:04

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