Independent daily Newspaper


 Old Archive RSS Feed    Advertise



 Continuity of Patient care in Iraqi Kurdistan

 Opinion  Analysis
  The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of the author


Continuity of Patient care in Iraqi Kurdistan ‎ 1.7.2012 
By Dr Shakawan Ismaeel

Share |

Dr Shakawan Ismaeel is a consultant physician in acute medicine, writes about health issues in Kurdistan and around the world. Read more by the Author
July 1, 2012

Continuity of patient's care means that the same medical team or doctor follows up the progress of patient's diagnosis and treatment over the period of their medical illness.

There have been many medical researches studying the benefit of continuity of care and majority concluded that patient's overall outcome is better if the same doctor follows up the patient's overall management.

There are many advantages of this approach including doctors familiarity of patients medical history ,medications ,adverse outcomes and investigations. In addition the patient will also be more satisfied as they don't have to repeat their medical history all over gain once they see their doctor which helps to build a good patient-Doctor relationship and build up their trust in the doctor.

In contrast if a different doctor sees the same patient on each visit there are many risks including prescribing the wrong medications, inaccurate diagnosis, less awareness of the process of investigations which may lead to repeating the same tests and the patient will be confused about their diagnosis and treatment.

The problems of continuity of care is encountered in every health system around the world but many modern health system reducing this risk through an electronic system which can be accessed by different doctors that makes it easier to retrieve the entire medical history, investigations and treatment given.

In Kurdistan the continuity of care is very poor and patients are often left in limbo about their medical illness as they are told different diagnosis and given different treatment for the same conditions by different doctors. This problem is even greater in Kurdistan due to lack of electronic patients record.

In Kurdistan it is often the case that patients see several doctors when they get ill on the same day to see if they get the same diagnosis and treatment before even trying any treatment. This is mainly due to lack of trust in doctors and very poor doctor-patient relationship. However this could be counterproductive as patients could take a mixture of their prescribed drugs with devastating consequences, they could be given the wrong diagnosis, their investigations could be repeated unnecessarily and ultimately paying a high price both financially and physically.

One of my close relatives recently developed a condition called a trial fibrillations which is irregularity of the heart rhythm that could lead to serious strain on the heart if left untreated. After her initial treatment in hospital I recommended a colleague of mine which is a specialist in this area to follow up my relatives to oversea overall management. We both agreed on a course of action and management plan and I informed my relatives in detail about the diagnosis and treatment. However I later found out that the family took the patient to see another specialist who changed all her medications which were controlling her heart rhythm. Subsequently she was readmitted to hospital with very fast heart rate and heart failure.

This case demonstrate there is a culture of mistrust in the health care professionals by patients and their families in Kurdistan. It also demonstrates that because of lack of continuity of patient's care doctors can change patients treatment with adverse outcome which could be fatal.

Kurdistan health system facing many serious challenges the continuity of patient's care is one of them. Education of doctors, patients and their families about this subject combined with establishing an electronic health record will reduce the risk in the long term.

Dr Shakawan Ismaeel is a consultant physician in acute medicine, writes about health issues in Kurdistan and around the world. Graduate of Salahaddin university in Kurdistan , Member of Royal college of Physician (London-UK) with PGC degree in medical ultrasound at Liverpool University. You can visit Dr Ismaeel's Blog at

Copyright 2012 All rights reserved


  The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of the author


Copyright 1998-2016 Kurd Net . All rights reserved
All documents and images on this website are copyrighted and may not be used without the express
permission of the copyright holder.