Only 24 percent of the patients with chronic diseases are able to hand over adequate previous health records and prescriptions provided by their doctors, which are required when they consult a new doctor, researchers from India and UK have found. The report highlights that the process of clinical handover — information transfer from one doctor or hospital to the next — is grossly inadequate in the country and leads to problems with regard to disease management in patients. Clinical handover is a critical element of healthcare for ensuring continuity of care, particularly so in India where many patients are unable to transfer important information. The researchers, however, found that only 35 percent patients had information on long-term care instructions, 44 percent could share lifestyle instructions, 68 percent had information on medication and 95 percent had diagnostic reports. The study said complete medical details were available with only 24 percent patients.
“If somebody has cancer and sees a new doctor but does not have all medical details of the past treatment, it’s a challenge for a new doctor to put him on the right course of treatment. That is exactly what’s happening,” Dorairaj Prabhakaran, a member of Public Health Foundation of India and co-author of the report, told this newspaper. He pointed out that discharge summaries, given to patients when they leave for home after a stint at a hospital, even at top tertiary care centers like AIIMS, Delhi, does not have all the relevant information that a doctor would refer subsequently before proceeding with the disease management of the patient. The study was carried out in seven government-run healthcare facilities in the country. The researchers have recommended that clinical handover be assisted by technology and formal protocols but till those systems are evolved, patients should have NCD booklets. – New Indian Express