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Mishandling of ophthalmology referral (07HDC19869)
Download Mishandling of ophthalmology referral (07HDC19869) (PDF 139Kb)
(07HDC19869, 3 October 2008)
District health board ~ Retinal detachment ~ Ophthalmology ~
Referral ~ Rights 4(1), 4(5), 6(1)(c)
A woman complained about a district health board's mishandling
of her husband's ophthalmology referral from another DHB. Following
receipt, the referral was filed by mistake and the man was not
allocated an ophthalmology appointment. Six months later, when the
error was discovered, corrective surgery was no longer an option.
Several months later, the man had surgery to remove his left eye,
and was given a prosthesis.
It was held that the DHB breached Rights 4(1) and 4(5) for
failing to have an appropriate referral receipt system in place,
and failing to co-ordinate its ophthalmology services with the
referring DHB. It also breached Right 6(1)(c) as the man did not
receive adequate information about his referral, including an
approximate timeframe for an appointment.
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.
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