3.7  Referral

The procedures used for referring a young infant to hospital are the same as those for referring an older infant or young child. You need to prepare a referral note and explain to the mother the reason you are referring the young infant. You should also teach her anything she needs to do on the way, such as keeping the young infant warm, breastfeeding and giving sips of oral rehydration solution (ORS).

In addition, you should explain to the mother that young infants are particularly vulnerable. When they are seriously ill, they need hospital care and need to receive it promptly. Many cultures have reasons not to take a young infant to hospital. The mother may also be concerned about who is going to look after any other children at home if she is away. In all cases you will need to listen to the reasons and explain to the mother that her infant’s illness can best be treated at the hospital.

As you read earlier in this study session there are a number of situations where a young infant should be referred urgently to hospital. These include possible serious bacterial infection and severe jaundice (they also include asphyxia and low birth weight and when the baby is very preterm).

When referring a young infant urgently to hospital, there are a number of pre-referral treatments that you should give. You will find these urgent pre-referral treatments printed in bold on the chart booklet in your health post. Some treatments should not be given before referral because they are not urgently needed and would delay referral. For example, when you’re referring an infant urgently you would not spend time at that point teaching the mother how to treat a local infection, or giving the young infant immunizations.

3.6.5  Severe jaundice

3.7.1  Urgent pre-referral treatment