Analysis of referral letters to medical out patient department in Benghazi – Libya

Original article


Rafik. R.Elmehdawi and Haitham. R. Elmehdawi

1- Department of medicine , 2- Department of surgery 7th of October hospital. Benghazi- Libya

JMJ Vol. 6, No. 2 (2006): 124-127


Introduction: The referral system is the way of communication between physicians at the three levels of health care system, primary health, general hospitals and specialized centres and it is an indicator of the quality of public health care services .It is crucial to have a good communication between primary and secondary health care levels as that will help to avoid overloading the health services. This communication process is often poor and this might result in re-referral, time wasting, straining the hospital services and reduce the patient’s confidence. Aim and objectives: to assess the quality of the referral letters to the medical out patient department. Materials and methods: a total of 150 referral letters were collected from the out patient medical department of the 7th of October hospital during the period from 18th to 25th of December, 2004. The letters were examined for the following items : the type of paper used, the presence of the patient’s name , age and gender, the quality of the hand writing , the presence of the doctor’s name and/or signature, the cause and the date of the referral and the place where the patient was referred from. Results: eighty nine % of the letters were of poor quality, one-third of the letters (33.7%) were of unclear hand writing, in 35.8% of the referral letters the age of the patient was not mentioned, 33% of the referral letters were without the doctors name and/or signature and the referral date was absent in 33.8% of the referral letters. Conclusion: the referral letters to medical out patient departments are of poor quality and in this paper we suggest some recommendations for improvement.

Keywords: Referral system, Referral letters, Health service