Will doctors at the primary level in Slovenia now be penalized if they unjustifiably refer their patient to a specialist examination? In the framework of the general agreement, which otherwise defines the scope of health programmes for 2018, such a measure is also mentioned. In this way, the Ministry of Health wants to reduce unnecessary referrals to the secondary level, thus facilitating faster access to examinations for those who are in urgent need. The Medical Chamber of Slovenia and the Union of Family Doctors, however, believe that such a measure is unlawful and, in particular, very harmful to patients.
If the measure comes into effect, family doctors will need to cover the costs of unjustified referrals of patients to specialist examinations themselves. "This measure is illegal, because the Patients’ Rights Act clearly states that the referral physician will send the patient in accordance with professional recommendations and with special circumstances of the patient's condition," explains Igor Muženič, also a representative of the Praktikum Union of Family Doctors .
In January, general practitioners wrote on average 62 referrals, while the record holder wrote about 800. The surgeon and traumatologist Franci Vindišar says that the proportion of unjustified referrals is high and that he supports the measure, but he already expects complaints.
The chair of the Medical Chamber of Slovenia believes that the measure will lead to discord between doctors in primary health care and specialists, and most importantly ruin the trust between patients and their primary physicians.