Srinagar: Over 30,000 referral cases from district hospitals are received annually at tertiary care hospitals in Srinagar, putting an extra burden on them.
According to the official figures, of the 30,000 cases, Sher-e-Kashmir Institute of Medical Sciences (SKIMS) Soura alone receives over 15,000 referral cases per year.
Lal Ded maternity hospital every year receives about 8000 referral cases while SMHS hospital receives around 3000 cases.
Of around 800 cases in the Out Patient Department (OPD) at Chest Disease (CD) Hospital, 70 percent cases are from different districts.
Last month, at least 600 referral cases were registered at LD Hospital while SMHS received 250 cases and CD Hospital 200 cases.
Medical Superintendent, SKIMS, Soura, Dr Farooq Jan told Greater Kashmir that 90 percent of the admissions in the emergency were from different districts.
“Of the 2000 patients in the OPD per day, 600 are referral cases. Our district hospitals including Primary Healthcare Centres have improved. So, I hope there will be less referrals in the coming months,” he said.
According to officials, these figures include both “justified” as well as “unjustified” referral cases.
Talking to Greater Kashmir, Head of the Department (HoD) at CD Hospital Dr Naveed Nazir Shah said that the maximum cases they see at OPD were from different hospitals.
“People with upper and lower respiratory tract infection can be easily treated at Sub District Hospitals and Primary Health Centres. There are now Government Medical Colleges in different districts. People having less complications can be easily treated at the district level. So when these patients include referrals, unjustified referrals, or patients who visit on their own, the overall scenario of referrals overburdens the tertiary care hospitals,” he said.
Dr Shah said that if the primary healthcare system at district level had all the facilities, then they should provide treatment to the patients so that the burden of the tertiary care hospitals would be minimised.
“If the cases of referrals would be minimised, other patients who have severe complications would be provided with the proper care and treatment,” he said.
Medical Superintendent at Lal Ded Hospital, Dr Muzaffar Hussain Sherwani told Greater Kashmir that the hospital receives over 600 cases every month from different districts.
He said that of the 600 cases, 450 are justified and 150 unjustified even though the hospital receives referral cases from peripheries as well.
“Most of the referrals among the justified cases have gynaecological complications. Also, the district hospitals refer patients due to lack of blood bank facilities. Patients also visit our OPDs and we treat them. We cannot stop anyone from visiting the hospital. Patients with complications seek consultation with a cardiologist, neonatologist, and even a surgeon,” he said.
Dr Sherwani said in the previous years more referral cases were registered at the hospital but somehow the cases had reduced now.
Last year, all the health institutions of J&K were asked to submit a monthly report of referrals from the Directorates of Health Kashmir and Jammu and the Government Medical Colleges of Srinagar and Jammu.
The government has also asked the hospitals to curb the practice of referrals as it puts a huge load on the tertiary care institutions besides under-utilisation of district-level manpower and facilities.