Each moment is crucial for a patient who is being rushed to a hospital in a critical state. The patient may be suffering from an acute disease or could be an accident victim. During such occasions, the prime focus is on saving the life of the patient. When the patient arrives at the hospital, the medical team there would be making all efforts to offer the best treatment available.
However, in two situations, the patient may have to be referred from one hospital to another. The first is that the patient may need treatment or specialist care that is not available at the first hospital that he or she is taken to. A patient may also be shifted when the bystanders are not satisfied with the treatment at the hospital.
In both cases, a ‘reference letter’ has to be obtained from the hospital where the patient is initially taken. Moreover, the bystanders should have a clear idea about which treatment centre the patient is being shifted to. If they make enquiries about the facilities there, things would be easier for everyone.
While shifting a patient to another hospital, the bystanders also have to inform the authorities there about the condition of the patient as well as the opinion of the doctor who initially attended the case. Depending on the state of the patient, an ICU ambulance and services of expert nursing staff in the vehicle have to be ensured.
In some instances, when the condition of the patient worsens, relatives and bystanders often demand a meeting with the doctor at the new hospital. However, the doctor may not be able to speak to them as he would be too busy. In such a situation, the services of the public relations (PR) section can be availed.
The bystanders can e-mail details of the ailment and the condition of the patient to the PR section of the referral hospital. This information can be passed on to the doctors before the patient arrives, enabling expert treatment without delay. In addition, the time the patient leaves the first hospital and details of the ambulance can also be passed on. This would save time and avoid the need to go around searching for the best hospital.
In fact, the medical fraternity has long been demanding a ‘Patient shifting protocol’ to ensure that a patient does not die owing to lack of timely treatment. If the protocol can be implemented in all hospitals, valuable lives can be saved. However, the bystanders also have to support its implementation.
(The author is secretary, IMA Kottayam branch)