A retrospective clinical audit of the Durban University of Technology homoeopathic satellite clinic in Redhill
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Introduction The Durban University of Technology (DUT) homoeopathic satellite clinic in Redhill was established in 2005. It was started by private homoeopathic practitioners who wanted to provide healthcare services to members of the community. This satellite clinic is very distinct from other DUT homoeopathic satellite clinics as it occupies space in an eThekwini Municipality public health care clinic. The homoeopathic clinic offers free homoeopathic treatment to the local community, as it is a training facility for 5th year homoeopathy students of the DUT. Students consult at this clinic under the direct supervision of a qualified homoeopathic clinician. This descriptive and retrospective study aimed to determine the patient demographics, the disease prevalence, the forms of homoeopathic treatment modalities utilised and to assess the financial implications of operating the clinic. Data was collected by conducting an audit of new and follow up appointments at the Redhill clinic over a five year period from 2010 to 2014. Methodology This descriptive and investigative clinical audit was conducted retrospectively at the Redhill Clinic. A data collection sheet was completed for each patient file which included demographic data such as race, age and gender, the year of the consultation, the date of each visit, the number of visits, the diagnoses and treatment protocols, materials used, prices of medicines and the cost of the clinician. The researcher captured the relevant data of each patient file at the DUT premises under the direct supervision of the supervisor. Each patient file was examined individually. Any patient file that was found to have missing information was not included on the data collection sheet or entered into the Microsoft Excel® spread sheet. The results were then analysed by using various forms of descriptive statistics such as pivot tables, pivot charts, pie charts and bar-charts. Results The Redhill Clinic was open once a week from 2010 to 2012 thereafter it was open every second week until September 2014 due to unavailability of rooms. A total number of 841 patient files which met the inclusion criteria were investigated. There were a total number of 1573 visits over a five year period. The majority of patients who attended the Redhill clinic during the study period were Africans, females and between the age group 21 – 30 years old. The five most prevalent conditions that were seen at the Redhill clinic were respiratory, musculoskeletal, infections, dermatological and gastro-intestinal conditions. The operational expenditure of a homoeopathic satellite clinic included the cost of medicines and materials used. The total cost was calculated to be less than R130 000 over a five year period. Conclusion The patient numbers decreased from 2010 to 2014. The number of follow up visits increased from 2010 to 2012. The number of patient visits has been consistent with more than 50 new and follow up visits each year. This suggests that there has been patient satisfaction with homoeopathic treatment over the years. The homoeopathic satellite clinic is unique as it is enclosed within the Redhill municipality clinic where allopathic doctors also practice medicine. This setting is advantageous because the nursing sisters at the clinic often refer patients to the homoeopathic satellite clinic on a weekly basis and students are able to refer their patients to the municipal clinic as appropriate. Patients were treated with homoeopathic remedies, herbal tinctures and creams and tissue salts. The low operational expenditure of the homoeopathic satellite clinic shows that it is very cost effective and inexpensive to maintain such a clinic. The results that were obtained from this study imply that the inclusion of homoeopathic satellite clinics in disadvantaged communities such as Redhill is beneficial and viable. The practice of homoeopathy is viable especially because of the current challenges that the health system of South Africa is exposed to. One of the significant concerns is that there is a shortage of health care workers in the public health care system. This study did not aim to investigate the possibility of incorporating homoeopathy into public health care at present but results can serve as a model for the inclusion of homoeopathy into other public health care facilities. The disease profile and treatment protocols that were obtained from this study can be used in planning the establishment of other homoeopathic satellite clinics in the future.