Challenges of Otolaryngologic Referral in a Nigerian Tertiary Hospital
Background: The referral system offers one strategy for making the best use of hospitals and tertiary healthcare services. The aim of this study was to analyze the referral system of patients to the otorhinolaryngologist and to examine the use of in-house referral system in the teaching hospital set up.
Methods: This was a retrospective review of all patients referred to the ENT Department between January 2000 and December 2007. Data retrieved from all referral notes included the review of referral letter, demographic, referral status, clinical presentations and examination findings. These data were entered into the SPSS computer software version 11.0 and analysed
Results: A total of 1402 cases were analyzed. The patients’ ages ranged from 3weeks to 90yrs, with 70.4% of cases being below 40yrs of age while 25.9% were between 40-64yrs and 3.7% were above 65yrs. The Male to female sex ratio was 1:1. The majority (70.4%) of the patients had at least primary school education. The rest (29.6%) had no formal education. Slight over half (51.5%) of the patients were unemployed. The rest were either civil servants or self employed. Out of the 1402 patients that were referred to the hospital, in-house referral accounted for 74.1%, 7.2% of came from private health facility and 4.3% were self referrals. Out of the 1038 in-house referrals, 42.8% were from GOPD, 5.0% from Staff clinic, 13.3% from surgery, 4.7% from medicine, 3.5% from Obstetrics and Gynaecology, 10% from paediatrics and 10.4% from ophthalmology and 10.3% from ENT staffs such as residents, ENT Nurse Practitioner and ENT supporting staffs such as speech therapist and audiologist.
Conclusion: The challenges of referral to the otolaryngologists are enormous thus the need to organize continuous medical education for the family physician, to make patients have confidence in the primary care physician, early referral of patients and to allow the otorhinolaryngologist to focus on the cutting edge issues of the specialty