Patterns of referral to Red Cross War Memorial Children's Hospital, Cape Town

  • P.I. Lachman
  • I. A. Stander

Abstract

Patterns of referral to Red Cross War Memorial Children's Hospital were studied to assess the appropriateness of referrals. From 1 July to 31 December 1987 all 9288 referral letters presented to the hospital were collected and a sample (4662 letters) analysed. It emerged that the patients were similar to those attending the outpatient department without referral, except that relatively fewer referred patients were black. The private sector, i.e. general practitioners, was the largest referral agency, followed by day hospitals. Most patients were referred to the outpatient department without an appointment. Of the specialist clinics, the surgical clinics (i.e. ophthalmology and ear, nose and throat) had the highest number of referrals. The majority of patients (84,9%) were not admitted. Only in 30,3% of referred cases did the hospital make contact with referral agents. Referral rates were highest from the predominantly coloured areas of the Cape Peninsula. The hospital cannot isolate itse" from the community it serves and needs to support and guide referral agents in order to improve the utilisation of the hospital. Training of health professionals in order to increase expertise is a priority. A study of the total patient population would facilitate the understanding of hospital utilisation. Similar studies could be beneficial at other hospitals.

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eISSN: 0256-95749
print ISSN: 2078-5135