The referral letter - a problem of communication
This cross-sectional ,descriptive study assesses the letters sent with referred patients to Red Cross War Memorial Children's Hospital, Cape Town, and makes appropriate recommendations. During the 6-month period 1 July - 31 December 1987, 9 288 letters were photocopied at the admissions offices of the hospital. A sample of the letters collected, systematically stratified to represent the available days during the study, was analysed. Detailed analysis of 1143 (12,3%) letters was undertaken. The private sector, i.e. general practitioners, was the largest referral agency, followed by communitybased day hospitals. The quality of information in referral letters was comparable to that found in other studies. The quality of letters influenced the writing of replies by hospital staff. There is a need to develop ways of improving communication between hospital staff and referral agents.
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