Thursday, May 05, 2005

GPs and referrals - passing the buck

Usually it's the GP's job to pass the buck to specialists, hospital admissions etc. When I went for my clinical placement yesterday though, something unusual happened - a hospital referred a patient to the GP I was with. The problem was, my GP was not very happy at all. FYI, the GP was a lady who hasn't ever seen this patient before. And the other problem was, the patient had psychiatric (personality disorder, drug and alcohol abuse) problems and needs medical prescription; and oh yeah, the patient was just released from prison for manslaughter (nearly forgot that :P)

I think health authorities, or at least, hospital staff should be more sensitive towards the right doctor for the right patient. Doctors are still human, and whilst doctors are supposed to remain non-judgmental and not overly prejudiced against different patients, it is almost impossible to do so, especially when dealing with issues of personal safety, familiarity with psychiatric problems etc. (and yeah, the issues of stigmatisation of patients with psychiatric disorder and past convicts are obvious here!) I'm not blaming the GP, I might have done the same in her position. It's just illogical to just refer a patient which presented to an ED of a hospital to a GP when the patient has problems which may be better handled by a more qualified person such as a psychiatrist.

WARNING: I hope this post complies with the confidentiality issues involved in doctor-patient care relationship. This post has not revealed the names of the GP and patient, the location of clinic, the name of the clinic and hospital.

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