Page Section: Left Content Column
Page Section: Centre Content Column
Loss of referral between district health boards (07HDC20199)
Download Loss of referral between district health boards (07HDC20199) (PDF 135Kb)
(07HDC20199, 3 October
District health boards ~ Carotid artery disease ~ Surgeon ~
Referral ~ Duty of care ~ Rights 4(1), 4(5)
A 72-year-old man was diagnosed by a general surgeon as having
carotid artery disease that required specialist surgery. The
general surgeon referred him to a vascular surgeon at another DHB.
Ten months later the man attended his general practitioner, who
realised that he had not yet been assessed by a vascular surgeon.
Accordingly, the general practitioner contacted the general
surgeon's registrar, who sent a second referral. The second DHB had
no record of receiving either referral. Shortly afterwards, the man
was admitted to hospital having suffered a stroke that affected the
right side of his body.
It was held that the first DHB failed to follow up the first
referral and check that it had been received and was being actioned
by the second DHB. The first DHB had no system in place to track
its referrals to other DHBs. In these circumstances, the DHB
breached Rights 4(1) and 4(5).
District health boards owe patients a duty of care in handling
outpatient referrals, under Right 4(1). A referring DHB must: (1)
copy all referrals to the patient and his or her GP; and (2) have a
system in place to ensure that a referral has been received (and
follow up in the absence of confirmation of receipt), and that the
care of the patient has been accepted by the receiving DHB.
A receiving DHB owes referred patients a duty of care to: (1)
acknowledge receipt of the referral; (2) prioritise it; (3) arrange
for patients to be seen in a timely fashion, in their agreed
priority; and (4) keep the patient and his or her GP informed
whether, and if so when, the patient will be seen.
Page Section: Right Content Column
Top of Page