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Acta Odontol Scand. 2012 Mar;70(2):165-8. doi: 10.3109/00016357.2011.600712. Epub 2011 Sep 22.

Quality and contents of referral letters from peripheral health centers to the dental centre of a teaching hospital, southwestern Nigeria.

Author information

1
Department of Periodontology and Community Dentistry,University of Ibadan, Ibadan, Nigeria. shola_ibiyemi@yahoo.com

Abstract

OBJECTIVE:

Referral letters are deficient in quality and content, which may prevent ideal treatment of patients. Therefore, this study assessed the quality and contents of referral letters from peripheral health centers to the dental center of a teaching hospital in southwestern Nigeria.

MATERIALS AND METHODS:

All consecutive referral letters received at the dental center of a teaching hospital in southwestern Nigeria from various peripheral health centers over a period of 1 year were prospectively reviewed using a structured questionnaire. The information extracted were patient's demographic data, addresses of referral persons, dates of referral, reasons for referral, medical and dental history, examination findings, investigations done, diagnosis and treatment given. Descriptive analyses of frequencies were done for all variables.

RESULTS:

One hundred and thirty-four referral letters were received and reviewed, comprising letters from 75 (60.0%) males and 59 (40.0%) females. The patient's age ranged from 2-74 years, with a median age of 25 years. The majority, 91 (85.4%), of the letters were written by medical doctors. An appreciable number of referral letters had no name or signature of the referring health care worker. Information on reasons for referral were not available in 27 (20.1%) of the letters. A significant proportion of referral letters lacked vital information on the patient age, past medical history, past dental history, investigations done and treatment given.

CONCLUSION:

This study has shown that referral letters written from various peripheral healthcare centers to the dental centre of a teaching hospital is generally of unacceptable quality and the content could be improved upon.

PMID:
21936719
DOI:
10.3109/00016357.2011.600712
[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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