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Referral Pattern Of Patients Received At The National Referral Hospital: Challenges In Low Income Countries

DO Simba
NAA Mbembati
LM Museru
LEK Lema


Objective: To examine the medical referral pattern of patients received at the Muhimbili National Hospital (MNH) in order to inform the process of strengthening the referral system. Methods: The study design was a prospective study conducted at MNH during a 10-week study period from January to March 2004. The study sample consisted of patients referred to MNH Results: Of the 11,412 patients seen, 72.5% were self-referrals. More than 70% of the patients seen required admission, though not necessarily at tertiary level. Only 0.8% came from outside the Dar es Salaam region. More than 70% of the patients seen required admission. Surgical services were required by 66.8% of patients, with obstetric conditions being most prominent (24.6% of all patients). For those who were formally referred from other health services, lack of expertise and equipment were the most common reasons given for referral (96.3%). Conclusion: Efforts to improve referral systems in low-income countries require that the primary and secondary level hospitals
services be strengthened and increased so as to limit inappropriate use of national referral hospitals.

Keywords: Referral System, Tertiary Hospitals, Low- income countries, Tanzania

East African Journal of Public Health Vol. 5 (1) 2008 pp. 6-9