The world is infested with numerous diseases that are caused due to several factors revolving around the change in the quality of lifestyle of humans. This change has led to people often visiting their doctors for recovering and restoring their healthy state of body and mind. In this regard, referral process plays a pivotal role, as it helps the doctors to keep a check and balance of the dietary and health patterns of individuals. This ensures that the patient receives correct and appropriate measures that keep them fit.
If the condition of the patient is such that it cannot be treated by the primary health care provider, then the patient is referred to a specialist that is proficient in treating that particular disease or illness. Therefore, the medical specialist referral process is usually based on a four-step course: common process, referral process, potential safety hazards and better protocol.
When a patient comes to primary health care clinic, the health care provider first identifies problem or disease with which the patient is suffering. he/she can do that by examining the symptoms that the patient exhibits. In addition to this, he/she can refer the patient to a specialist on the basis of test reports in case the patient has already got the tests done and carries reports with him.
For instance, if a patient suffers from elevated creatinine levels, it can be detected by primary health care provider on the basis of few specific symptoms that the patient generally shows in such state. This includes darkening of urine together with decrease in content of urine excreted during a day. Furthermore, the patient may be identified to experience lasting pain in back region, puffiness/swelling in different parts of the body specifically around eyes, and feeling of constant tiredness and weariness.
Moreover, patient may complaint about loss of appetite and rapid weight reduction when suffering from high creatinine levels. Additionally, patient may be presented to suffer from incurable fever (although not high enough), respiratory enormities, and some brain related problems including lack of focus and perplexity.
When the primary health care provider examines and identifies the above mentioned symptoms in a patient, he/she can use his/her medical knowledge to relate them to elevated creatinine levels in the patient's blood. Creatinine is a chemical substance that is produced by the kidney and is used in muscle metabolism. However, its high levels can cause immense damage to renal organs; therefore, its excess quantity is excreted by the kidneys in urine. Therefore, to prevent intensification of the prevailing conditions, the primary health care provider will refer the patient to nephrologist.
Specialists are proficient at identifying the core reasons that lead to any particular disease. Considering high creatinine levels in blood, Nephrologist is capable of profoundly recognizing the causes that have begotten to this enormity and execute an appropriate treatment process precisely.
Prompt referral to nephrologist will assist in curbing the process of renal deterioration due to elevated creatinine content and will also help in curing the reversible causes of creatinine associated kidney failure. Additionally, the renal specialist will guide the patient about the healthy activities that the patient should follow such as proper diet plan together with those things that the patient should avoid, as they might prove to be an obstruction in the treatment process. Moreover, nephrologist can treat the enormity by prescribing a proper treatment procedure including administration of medicinal drugs/pills and dialysis (if appropriate).
There are several benefits of referring a patient to a specialist for any disease or condition. The foremost amongst them includes restoring the health state of sufferers as efficiently and quickly as possible. Furthermore, another major advantage when the patient refers to specialists at early stage of disease or disorder is that the patient as well as the health care system will have to bear less expenses for the treatment procedures, as the condition of the patient is usually not extremely intense at that stage.
In case of high creatinine levels, patient must refer to a nephrologist as early as possible so that the extent of disease could be determined. Moreover, correct diagnosis based on examinations and assessments can be made according to which an appropriate treatment plan along with efficient care plan can be designed by the specialist.
2. Referral Process:
Referral process at health care clinics should be designed and operated in an efficient manner such that the needs of all patients are effectively catered to and the patients requiring special care or consideration must be provided with it so that their condition does not become worse until the patient gets an appointment with the specialist.
All referral work must be recorded on paper to secure it for records. These papers must be signed and stamped by primary health care provider as well as the patient to prevent any confusion or delays in future, as there are several patients that are to be taken care off in a primary health care clinic. The prioritization based on the urgency and extent of disease is also done and mentioned on the referral document. In case the patient needs urgent referral to the specialist, related clinicians are also involved that can help in obtaining an appointment for the patient to see the specialist on emergency basis. For the purpose of managing and organizing the data resourcefully, referral papers together with related information about the patient's case are filed and secured in marked folders.
If the patient has a medical insurance, referral process will also include the health personnel interacting with the insurance company about the disease and the estimated expenses. This is done to ensure that the patient receives health as well as financial care properly without confrontation of any sort of delays.
It is a fundamental part of the medical specialist referral process to provide all related information to the patient prior to the appointment with specialist. This information includes the nature and frequency of visits, co-ordination with insurance agents, total expenses, nature of payment, extent of care, and facilities provided throughout the treatment process.
Once all the information is properly delivered to the patient, clinicians facilitate in attaining appointment with the specialist taking the priority mentioned in the referral paper into account. Additionally, if the specialist wants to study the medical records and reports of the patient, primary healthcare provider sends them to the specialist on request.
Responsibilities of the primary health care provider also include the follow up with the patient to ensure that the patient actually goes and visits the specialist so that he/she can attain proper treatment to restore healthy state.
3. Potential Safety Hazard:
One of the primary issues that have been observed with the patients is that they seem too hesitant to visit the specialists for various reasons. Potential safety hazards usually occur when the patients are not willing to pay a visit to the specialist. Patients are the only stakeholders in the health care system who have to face the adverse consequences of it since they fail to receive proper and suitable treatment for their illness. Therefore, they could not restore their health and their illness remains uncured.
The most common issue that is conducive to failure of patients visit to the specialist is the lack of adequate transportation facility. This substantiates the fact that the patients might be residing in a remote area of the city or its outskirts where they are unable to access the common transport facilities such as train, bus or taxi services. Records in this regard have also brought the fact to the surface that people in many cases encounter difficulties with reference to transportation especially those residing in the developing countries. This is so because they lack access to the appropriate vehicle facility as well as non-access to fuel, which becomes an obstacle for them to visit the specialist. People liable to be referred to a nephrologist are required to be transported under special care to the clinics such as in ambulances (Jamison, 2006).
One of the widespread potential hazards that have been monitored is the psychological fear to find out results of illness. Various studies have also verified this fact where large proportion of patients does not visit the referred specialist due to fear about several issues such as the lack of disease knowledge, apprehension about unknown results that they might have to confront, non-acceptance about the severity of disease, painful experiences, and so on (Wauters, Lameire, Davison & Ritz, 2005). For instance, if the patient is suffering from high levels of creatinine, he/she can possess an image that they might be put up on dialysis as a part of treatment that is a much painful process. Due to this reason, the patient hesitates in knowing about the exact nature of his/her illness in order to keep himself/herself away from the painful treatment process.
Another significant hazard that has contributed as an obstruction in the implementation of the treatment procedures is non-compliance. Studies have revealed that non-compliant patients normally are…