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We are publishing a preview of an article in the new Corriere Salute. You can read the full text about the free edition on newsstands Thursday 22 September or in PDF on the digital edition of the Corriere della Sera.

The most difficult challenge for a public and universal health system such as the Italian one, which must guarantee fair access to services for all citizens, is to be able to carry out diagnoses and treatments within the maximum timeframes provided for by national legislation to ensure the prognosis and quality not endanger the lives of patients. What each of us can do to contribute to the proper functioning of the health service is to know our rights and learn how to use the services properly.

The role of general practitioners and specialists

The first thing to know is that access times are determined by the priority class assigned by the GP at the time of prescribing (see chart). This priority class is only valid for the first visits and for the tests used to diagnose a health problem that is not yet known, while all those aimed at a follow-up check-up are determined by the specialist, and in this case it is directly up to him to prescribe and book the appointment without the patient having to go back to his GP and to the Cup (the single booking center, ed.) “explains Mariangela Galante, head of waiting lists and booking systems at ASL 2 in Abruzzo. But that is not always the case.”In about half of the cases, the specialist refers the patient to me,” said Pina Onotri, general practitioner in Rome and general secretary of the Italian doctors’ union. Alessandro Politi, secretary of the province of Milan of the Italian Association for General Medicine (Simg), testifies: “The control is managed in 90% of the cases by the specialist in public structures and only in 50% in accredited honored private structures”.

The priorities: U, B, D, P

The priority codes are indicated by a letter on the prescription and depend on the severity of the symptoms: “U” indicates the urgent service to be performed in the shortest possible time and at the latest within 72 hours; ‘B’ (short) to be provided within 10 days when conditions can deteriorate rapidly; «D» (postponable) within 30 days in the case of a visit, within 60 days for instrumental examinations, a period that does not affect the patient’s condition; «P» (planned) within 120 days, if the situation does not pose any particular risks and can be expected. “Doctors determine the most appropriate timing in conscience and freedom, but they should follow a criterion of clinical suitability as much as possible to avoid unnecessary prescriptions that clog the lists,” notes Giuliano Mariotti, health director of the health authority of the province of Trento . Citizens can consult the waiting times for outpatient services on the websites of the Regions and the care companies. Both are required to publish them. However, the data is not always updated to the current year or past months. Sometimes the link doesn’t even open ».

You can continue reading the article for free on Thursday 22 September in Corriere Salute on newsstands or in PDF in the digital edition of Corriere della Sera.

Source: Corriere

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