A recent incident where a young girl running a fever was turned away at the hospital has sparked debate among doctors and the Health Insurance Organization, with an easy solution nowhere in sight.
(Click here for an update to the story)
On Wednesday morning, a little girl who was running a temperature was turned away at two state hospitals in Nicosia, with reports saying medics refused to refer or treat the young patient partly because she was not registered in the newly-launched Cyprus General Healthcare System known as GESY. Four hours later, after the mother was sent home to enroll her daughter in the system, the child was then admitted to Makarios Children’s Hospital.
The Cyprus Medical Association and the Pediatric Society of Cyprus are seeking answers in a joint letter to the State Health Services Organisation, expressing concern over the incident. CMA and PSC officials wrote about “unnecessary delays” in the little girl’s treatment on the basis that her mother had not registered promptly the child with a doctor within the GESY network.
“The delay and the inconvenience to the child’s family were uncalled for just because the young patient was not on the roster of a GESY-network doctor,” the letter said.
HIO says GESY doctors should not be expected to pull out the prescription pad or refer patients based on diagnoses made by doctors outside the network
The complaint also went on to ask about emergency cases for children who need specialized care, such as the kind of treatment in the neonatal intensive care unit available only at Makarios.
“After GESY is fully implemented, what will care look like in state-run medical centers? Will the beneficiaries become eligible only if they are registered with a GESY family doctor?” it was pointed out in the letter.
In response, HIO also weighed in on the debate, issuing a clarification statement to eligible beneficiaries, saying doctors within the GESY network carry out their duties based on their own assessment and should not be expected to pull out the prescription pad or refer patients based on diagnoses made by non-GESY doctors.
“It has been noted that beneficiaries visit GESY doctors demanding that they get medical prescriptions or referrals for lab tests on the basis of diagnoses by doctors who do not participate in the GESY network,” HIO said.
The specific incident with the little girl made headlines after Philenews reported on Wednesday that the mother went to the Emergency Room at Nicosia General Hospital to seek a referral.
Knews could not verify whether the visit to Nicosia General was defined either as an emergency or a referral, while the private doctor who saw the little girl had told the mother the child needed to be admitted into Makarios the soonest possible.
While CMA doctors seemed to be primarily concerned over the notion that emergency cases would go untreated based on non-GESY status, HIO officials insist they would seek ways to implement strict criteria when it comes to GESY doctors making their own determination as to the course of treatment for their patients.
“Under no circumstances will (GESY) doctors be compelled to act based on what beneficiaries or other healthcare providers desire instead of following their own professional judgment” the HIO said.
The institution of family doctor or primary physician is a new concept in the Republic of Cyprus and a cornerstone for GESY. Officials say a family doctor is to be seen as a gatekeeper who would reduce long waiting lines in hospitals and help patients navigate a better organized health system.