Patient referral pattern in northern Ghana: a retrospective study of the tamale teaching hospital
Background: Patient referral involves transferring the responsibility for the care of a patient from one level of care to the other. Several factors account for the referral of patients, and all categories of patients are referred.
Objective: This study sought to assess the most common medical and surgical conditions that are referred, as well as the demographics of patients mostly involved in medical referrals.
Materials and Methods: A retrospective cross-sectional study was conducted to examine the patterns of patient referral from peripheral facilities into the Tamale Teaching Hospital in 2021. Data on patient referral into the facility, including medical condition, age, gender, and other demographic information within a period of one year was retrieved from the nursing department under the consent of the nurse manager and analyzed using SPSS version 23.
Results: A total of 1565 referrals were made into the facility within the period under review. The main reasons for referral were to perform diagnostic investigations and for further management. Majority of the patients (53%) referred to facility were males within the ages of 20-49years. The commonest conditions that were referred were head injuries (19.9%) followed by fractures (12.8) most of which were sustained through road traffic accidents. Eighty two percent (82%) of the attempted referrals were successful whilst 12% was rejected for various reasons including improper referral procedures, whilst the remaining 6% were to call back after some issues have been resolved.
Conclusion: There is a high rate of patient referral in northern Ghana, most of whom are as a result of head injuries and fractures resulting from road traffic accidents.
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