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South African Dental Journal

versão On-line ISSN 0375-1562
versão impressa ISSN 0011-8516


MTHETHWA, SR  e  RAMPHOMA, KJ. The referral system for specialist dental services at Sefako Makgatho Oral Health Centre: a cross-sectional study. S. Afr. dent. j. [online]. 2021, vol.76, n.10, pp.618-623. ISSN 0375-1562.

BACKGROUND: The functioning of various referral systems in service delivery at district level have been described. AIMS AND OBJECTIVES: To examine the functioning of referral system for specialist dental services at Sefako Makgatho Oral Health Centre. The prevalence of self-referrals and emergency patients and reasons for referrals were determined. The pattern of referrals for elective treatment at the clinical units was described. DESIGN: This was a cross-sectional study. METHOD: A structured closed questionnaire was used to collect data related to demographic characteristics, reasons for referrals to the clinic and whether patients were referred by healthcare workers or self-referred. Patients themselves or with the assistance of the research team completed the questionnaire. Data required for classifying patients into emergency and non-emergency was gathered from the service register. The classification was made based on the referral preferences of attending clinicians. RESULTS: A substantial proportion of visitors to the hospital were self-referred (71.3%), emergency patients (69.7%). Among referred patients, the most common reason for referrals was for specialist oral and maxillofacial surgical services. The majority (64.7%) of hospital visitors received elective treatment referrals, 48.9% of which were for general dentistry. CONCLUSION: The prevalence of self-referrals by emergency patients is extremely high.

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