33 people in emergency departments for acne
As one of the busiest months for Queensland emergency departments begins, Queensland Health is urging people to think before heading to an ED for minor conditions.
Queensland Health’s Chief Clinical Information Officer Professor Keith McNeil said that on average, of the 155,000 ED presentations across Queensland public hospitals every month, 32 per cent are ailments a GP could treat.
“Queensland emergency departments are seeing more and more patients needing care for urgent and complex conditions, and people seeking care for minor ailments put added pressure on our hardworking ED staff,” he said.
“In the first six months of this year, more than 290,000 presentations were categorised as GP-type, meaning they could or should have been treated by GPs or other clinical professionals and not in the emergency department.
“Of those, we’ve had presentations for acne, hiccups, ingrown nails, blisters, warts and sunburn – not to mention the thousands of sprains and bruises our ED nurses and physiotherapists treat.
“While they may well have required some sort of medical or other clinical attention, the emergency department is not the right place for these kinds of ailments.
“We continue to have Queenslanders turning up for prescription refills, medical certificates and contraception management.
“The emergency department is not the place for these things – by definition, it’s there to treat emergencies.
“Our outstanding ED clinicians work hard, saving life and limb, and ensuring people are treated in a timely manner – these non-emergency and less severe type presentations make it much harder to do that.”
Logan Hospital emergency consultant Dr Scott Mackenzie said while no patient seeking assistance from an ED is ever turned away, people with minor ailments or injuries could be putting more seriously ill patients at risk with the added pressure on the system.
“These sorts of presentations see our staff attending to people that could be seen by other medical professions,” he said.
“Keep our emergency departments for those who need it most.”
Professor McNeil said there are very good alternatives to the emergency department to ensure that all Queenslanders are treated by the right person at the right time in the right place.
“If it’s life-threatening, call 000 immediately; if you’re unsure if it’s an emergency, contact 13 HEALTH for advice; but if it’s a minor ailment, visit a pharmacy or your GP,” he said.
“Pharmacies are great for helping with conditions such as cold and flu symptoms, skin conditions and irritations, minor or mild allergy symptoms, mild headaches, diarrhoea or constipation, or sleeping problems.
“GPs can treat many conditions you might otherwise go to an emergency department for, such as removing stitches, sprains and strains, bites and stings, many viral and other infections, and assessment of prolonged illness or injury.”
Examples of non-urgent ED presentations between 1 January 2018 and 30 June 2018
Attention to surgical dressings and sutures
Urinary tract infection
Muscle cramp or spasm
Ear wax blockage
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