Demographic Characteristics, Referrals and Patients’ Accessibility to an Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery Clinic

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Background: Throughout the financial crisis in Greece, health expenditures have been significantly reduced. As a result, patients’ accessibility to various health care providers has been significantly reduced. The aim of the present study was to determine the profile of patients visiting a maxillofacial clinic in Northern Greece and the patients’ accessibility to the specific healthcare.

Material and Methods: Data were collected from 481, out of the 600, patients visiting for the first time the University Maxillofacial Clinic of a hospital in Northern Greece during 2013 and 2014. The sample was called to answer to an anonymous self-reference questionnaire with questions regarding their demographic and clinical characteristics, the pattern of their referral to the specific clinic, their city of residence, as well as information regarding their hospitalization.

Results: The majority of patients (53.4%) were referred by a physician, while 38.4% by a dentist. More than half (51.4%) were admitted to the specific clinic with admission diagnoses such as Benign Lesions-Cysts (25.2%), Masticatory Myalgia-Temporomandibular Joint Dysfunction (21.6%), Infections (19.5%) and Fractures (18%). The median time to seek to hospital evaluation/treatment, from the initial diagnosis, was 30 days. Nine out of ten patients stated that there was no Maxillofacial Surgery Clinic in their area of residence, while 80.3% reported using a private means of transport to access the clinic.

Conclusions: The results indicated a delay with respect to the final diagnosis, as well as difficulty in patients’ accessibility, something that could contribute to an increase in morbidity and subsequently in the cost for managing patients’ maxillofacial problems.

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