Medical emergencies are becoming more common, with up to 5,000 patients a week receiving medical advice.
But while the number of such calls is rising, the number is falling in a number of states, particularly Queensland and New South Wales.
We hear a lot about the need for better data-sharing, and in the case of hospital emergency departments, for better clinical management, says Dr Jennifer Friesen, associate professor of clinical practice at the University of Queensland’s Faculty of Medicine.
In the past few years, Queensland has seen a shift towards more patient-focused care, she says.
It’s been a long-standing problem in other states.
“They’re using the resources better, they don’t wait to see what the response is. “
When you have a hospital emergency, they’re not prepared for the level of distress that you’re going to see, so they tend to take the patient on as a ‘first-come, first-served’ basis, without much consultation,” she says, adding there are better systems in place.
A recent case study found patients were treated more effectively at a hospital in Queensland. “
If they do see a patient in need, they’ll respond quickly and effectively.”
A recent case study found patients were treated more effectively at a hospital in Queensland.
“In the first 24 hours of admission, they were given the most aggressive antibiotics,” Dr Friesens says.
“And by the end of the 24 hours, they’d been treated with more than 100 different drugs.”
In a recent study in Australia, a nurse in Victoria who had worked in an emergency department for 30 years, found the response times were significantly faster than those in the general public.
“We’ve been doing better in terms of clinical care, but we’re still getting worse in terms for patient outcomes,” she said.
In a study published last year, the University at Albany found people in Queensland were three times more likely to be admitted to hospital with a medical condition, compared to people in other parts of the country.
“What we found was that we’re seeing more and more people come to hospital for a medical problem,” Dr Peter Goulburn, an emergency medicine specialist at the New York-Presbyterian Hospital and SUNY Downstate Medical Center, said in a statement.
“The problem is that they’re more likely than people in the population in the rest of the United States to be referred for other problems, like a heart attack, pneumonia, or HIV infection.”
In NSW, there were 6,600 calls to the emergency department in the last financial year, up from 3,500 in the year before.
“With our patients, we’re dealing with very, very complex issues, like stroke, diabetes, heart failure, and it’s not something that is a simple case of ‘Oh, we’ll get you to the hospital, we have the right doctors,'” Dr Goulbourne says.
He says patients have been reluctant to come in for treatment, but “it’s the way it’s always been”.
“I’ve seen the reaction to it, and people are very polite,” he says.
In Queensland, the Department of Health says it has invested $15 million in training staff to recognise the need to increase patient care.
In NSW the department has made changes to the way that emergency services are run.
The department said it would also introduce a new coronavirus testing protocol, and make sure there are trained medical staff on site to monitor patients’ vital signs and monitor for infection.
Queensland’s emergency department is the only one in the state with a protocol for treating emergencies, and the only state that has a dedicated coronaviruses testing site.
“There are a lot of other jurisdictions in the world that have coronaviral testing sites, but Queensland is the first state to have it, because it has so many patients,” Dr Goulsbourne says of Queensland.
Queensland health minister, Kate Jones, says the state has been working with the Victorian Government on a protocol, to ensure patients are taken to a hospital within the first hour.
“I think it’s important that we recognise that patients are very likely to come to the Queensland Emergency Department for any kind of medical issue and we want to make sure that patients come to their doctor as quickly as possible,” she told ABC News Breakfast.
“That’s why we’re looking at the protocols and making sure that it’s an emergency, rather than a primary care patient, which is why we have coronaval testing.”
She said the department was “working hard” to make the state’s emergency departments more patient focused.
“This is a priority for Queensland and I would encourage Queensland to work with other states to get that right,” she added.
“For a very long time we’ve had the same problem in Queensland.”
But there are signs of progress.
Last year, Queensland recorded a