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Fewer minor cases clog up Emergency

Emergency Department executive director Dr Dan Bitmead (right) in the busy Ipswich Hospital Emergency Department.
Emergency Department executive director Dr Dan Bitmead (right) in the busy Ipswich Hospital Emergency Department. David Nielsen

THE Ipswich Hospital's emergency department is getting busier - but the number of non-urgent cases fronting the ED is falling.

More than 50,000 patients attended the Emergency Department in the past 12 months, with 28% admitted to the hospital and 3000 patients choosing to seek further medical advice from their GP.

West Moreton Health Service District chief executive officer Pam Lane said education had been the key to curbing the number of minor medical cases.

"While the number of less serious cases presenting at the Ipswich Hospital Emergency Department (ED) is falling, there continues to be around 50,000 presentations each year," she said.

"A community education campaign on knowing when to visit the ED helped contribute toward a reduction in the number of less urgent patients attending the department last year."

Emergency Room executive director Dr Dan Bitmead said the number of presentations had steadily increased year-on-year.

He said the ED staff were treating more patients with immediate, imminent or potential life-threatening conditions.

Dr Bitmead said patients with less serious conditions were taking the medical of advice of ED doctors after their initial assessment.

"It's getting better. The number of patients that come through the emergency department that could see a GP is dropping. The community is getting the message," he said.

The combination of education and Queensland Health services like the 13 HEALTH phone line contributed to the fall, he said.

Ms Lane said Ipswich Hospital's latest online performance data for March showed ED staff treated more than 97% of patients with 'immediately or imminently life threatening conditions' within 10 minutes.

"Our staff should be congratulated on this achievement," she said.

The median waiting time in the Emergency Department is 25 minutes.

Topics:  emergency department, ipswich hospital


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