TG is poorly educated and lives alone. He is asthmatic and hypertensive with poor adherence to his medications. He attends XUZ Hospital for his health needs. Important in his medical history was an allergic reaction to Lisinopril tablet when he used it for his elevated blood pressure. Recently, a new hospital was established in his neighborhood which caught his fancy. He decided to switch his follow up care to the new hospital. Ignorant of the implication of his prior allergic response to the drug, he had Lisinopril tablet prescribed to him again as he declared no history of medication allergy. He narrowly survived the life threatening reaction that followed the use of the drug………
Similar to having a personal lawyer or beautician who knows one’s peculiarities, receiving care for health needs in one or two specific clinics or hospitals is a wise and safe approach. The medical personnel consciously and reflexly are aware of the uniqueness of every patient or client in their practice. The hospital records are updated to reflect every information that may have positive or negative impact on care of every patient. Therefore, the keeping of health records prevents unexpected and catastrophic outcomes as a result of care received by the individual.
For several reasons, some individuals change their hospitals to receive care elsewhere. Genuine reasons include; geographical relocation, health insurance companies’ recommendation, recommendation by the personal physician, etc. In these circumstances, such change of hospital should be accompanied by a comprehensive medical report on the individual to ensure that continuity of care is maintained. Some individuals may however change their hospitals for ‘inappropriate’ reasons such as; desire to experience a new hospital, avoidance of debt in previous hospital, and search for alternative diagnosis or treatment due to dissatisfaction with health facts communicated by the previous doctor.
When individuals switch hospitals, they may maintain the same quality of health, get better, or get worse. The risk of worsening health status if hospital change is not done appropriately demands for caution. In countries with standard health systems, hospital change doesn’t upset patient care because medical records are electronic and interconnected. In such countries, retrieval of medical records kept in any hospital is very easy. This is not so in countries where hardcopy folders are used.
Switching hospitals may attract additional costs to the health insurance company and/or clients when access to previous health record is difficult. These extra costs cover investigations which had been done elsewhere prior to hospital change and other sundry services. Very important in healthcare delivery is patient-doctor relationship. This relationship is the core essence of quality evaluation enjoyed by ill individuals. Switching hospitals also demands the individual to develop this invaluable relationship every time.
Before changing hospital, it is recommended that the risks and benefits of such decision be weighed appropriately.
Dr Ademola Orolu is a Consultant Family Physician. He holds the Fellowship of The West African College of Physicians. He is also an Associate Fellow of The National Postgraduate Medical College of Nigeria. He is in active clinical practice. He is a writer, a patient advocate, and has a passion for health education. He is the chief editor of The Family Doctors. He can be contacted via email@example.com