MOH News
MOH Manifests Patient's Referral Mechanism
11 November 2013
Proceeding from the King's directives to adopt the principle of transparency and clarity when dealing with all media outlets, and out of the Ministry of Health's desire to brief everyone on the facts regarding the claims published in some media outlets and social networking websites on requests of treatment by some patients;
And after hearing of a wide range of claims, which might affect badly on patients and efforts exerted by the government of the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques, May Allah protect him, represented by the MOH, in the field of maintaining the safety and security of patients based on Article 31 of the Basic Law of Governance which stipulates that, “The State shall look after public health and provide health care for every citizen”;
 
Upon the above-mentioned facts, the MOH asserts that it is committed to providing health services and medical care for patients, in accordance with the medical norms, regulations and laws adopted inside or outside the Kingdom, given that the patient's health status and physician's medical opinion are only the criterion in this point. The Ministry also affirms that it estimates patients and exerts its utmost effort to meet their needs in treatment.
 
As a result, the MOH wants to manifest the mechanism adopted in referring cases inside or outside the Kingdom, as follows:
 
First: Referral of cases from a hospital to another inside the Kingdom:
  • Urgent cases, whose health status requires to be referred from a general hospital to a referral hospital or center, are referred urgently through the MOH's Emergency General Department, in case that the physician sees the necessity of referral or if the patient is to undergo rehabilitative, therapeutic, or diagnostic tests.
  • Routine cases, whose health status requires to be referred from a general hospital to a specialized or referral center or hospital, are examined by the General Medical Commission in the concerned region, which includes in its membership consultant physicians. The decision to transfer the case to a referral hospital is taken, in case that the physician sees the necessity of referral or if the patient is to undergo rehabilitative, therapeutic, or diagnostic tests
  •  In the above mentioned cases, the Ministry will provide tickets to board the referred cases to hospitals and it will also pay pocket money for the patient and his fellow. If the case's health status requires referral through medical evacuation, this matter can be handled by the concerned authorities (Air Medical Evacuation Department - Medical Services of the Armed Forces).
  • The Ministry estimates the desire of some patients and their relatives to be referred to any destination, but the health system in Saudi Arabia is built on the medical opinion, which is also built on the health status of the patient, and benefits to be gained from the referral to another health facility, so that the patient can make the most of specialized and referral centers and hospitals. If the Ministry does not apply this mechanism, beds in referral hospitals and centers will be used by other cases with a normal health status.
  • After reviewing the cases published in media outlets, it was noted that the majority of them would not benefit from the referral as said by consultants; due to the absence of a cure for some serious cases and diseases, such as car accident injuries, nervous system diseases, and incurable diseases.
  • The number of cases referred to Saudi health institutions for treatment reached 86587 patients since the beginning of the current calendar year and so far, according to the regulation in force.
Second: Referral of cases outside the Kingdom:
  • Patients are referred to hospitals outside the Kingdom upon the King's decision, or upon a resolution issued by the General Medical Commission, which is made up of Saudi consultants from different health public sectors, such as (Medical Services of the Ministry of Defense, National Guard's Health Affairs, Medical Services of the Ministry of Interior, King Faisal Specialist Hospital and Research Centre, universities' hospitals, and Ministry of Health).
    Consultants, who are members in the General Medical Commission, will review the health status of the patient, the availability of treatment within the Kingdom, and the possibility of referring him to hospitals outside the kingdom. This means that the decision here is based on the health status of the patient and opportunities of treatment and recovery, Allah willing.
  • In case a decision was issued to refer the patient outside the Kingdom, the Ministry of Health, through its health missions outside the Kingdom, coordinates with the medical centers and hospitals abroad and sets an appointment for the patient. This matter requires the receipt of approval from the hospital where the patient will be treated, and booking of an appointment with the treating physician, given that this may take a long time due to difficulty of setting up instant appointments with the treating physician. It is noteworthy that those physicians are leaders in their fields so they might have previously-scheduled appointments. The required specialization might be also rare and available only in a limited number of hospitals. If the health status of the patient is dangerous and requires special care or medical evacuation, the situation will become difficult due to universally-recognized medical and regulatory reasons. Also, the possibility to obtain approval or beds for those cases will become more challenging.
  • Patients, who are allowed to travel abroad for treatment, will need to obtain a visa to travel abroad, given that most embassies in the foreign countries require an approval and appointment by the treating hospital to grant such a visa. It is worth mentioning that the General Medical Commission in regions grants the patient or his family a letter showing the appointment proposed by the hospital, so that the patient can obtain the visa as soon as possible. In addition, the Ministry of Health provides tickets to transfer the referred case and it also pays pocket money for the patient and his fellow.
  • The majority of cases, referred to in media outlets and social networking websites, were proven that they would not benefit from the referral as said by consultants; due to the absence of a cure for some serious cases and diseases. This means that the decision here is based on the medical opinion.
  • The decision to extend treatment abroad is taken by the General Medical Commission. This means that the decision here is based on a medical opinion. It is worth mentioning that the Saudi consultants review reports received from physicians outside the Kingdom and take their recommendation seriously.
  • The number of cases referred to foreign countries for treatment reached 1833 patients during 2012.
Finally, the Ministry wants to clarify that it operates according to a scientific mechanism and methodology that achieve justice and equality among citizens; noting that the criterion here is the health status of the patient and physician's medical opinion. Also, the Ministry wants to highlight that it has activated the Citizen's Voice System via its portal: http://www.moh.gov.sa; to receive citizens' requests, complaints and suggestions regarding the services provided for them. In addition, the MOH has activated the 937 Service to provide ambulatory services and meet the needs of patients.
 
 
 
 



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