The Accident & Emergency Department (A&E) at the state-run Queen Elizabeth Hospital (QEH) is being stretched to the limit.
Senior Registrar in the department Dr Joanne Bradford gave this assessment at the QEH’s accountability meeting last evening, saying: “We are seeing sicker patients, doing more for patients with the same number and in some cases reduced numbers particularly of the nurses who require specialized skills to do what they have to do.
“And I think that while we are hard on our nurses I think that they are doing an exceptional job given the circumstances that they have to work under.”
She said another major challenge was abandonment of the elderly.
“And when I say abandoned in a department I don’t mean for a day or two days or even a week. We have had patients who have been left in the Emergency Department for the greater part of a year. And that is one bed taken up for that entire time,” she said.
Dr Bradford pointed out that the hospital was often filled to capacity, and A&E could have at least 20 patients in a day to be admitted, the majority of whom are suffering from internal medical conditions and surgical conditions.
She also cautioned against use of the department for non emergency cases and using the example of asthmatics, she said “some of the asthmatics they come to A&E, they may be wheezing yes and that is what we’re there for, we’ll see you for the wheezing. But some come really because they want their prescription filled. Some will tell you point blank that they don’t have a doctor, the Emergency Department is their primary care physician,” she said.
Dr Bradford made it clear that she was not seeking to prevent patients from seeking care at the department, however she would like them to be more discerning when seeking medical attention.
“You’re not going to call the ambulance to come to the emergency department to get a prescription filled, and patients do that. That is use of a valuable resource where there’s a person who is probably having a heart attack who can’t get an ambulance to come to the emergency department,” Dr Bradford said.