Friday, August 23, 2013

Selfish patients clogging up A&E

Borneo post

KUCHING: About 80 per cent of the cases attended to by emergency personnel at the Accident and Emergency clinic (A&E) of the Sarawak General Hospital (SGH) here are non-critical cases which do not need immediate attention.

This was disclosed by SGH director Dr Abdul Rahim Abdullah to The Borneo Post yesterday in response to complaints from the public on the perpetual overcrowding at the A&E clinic.

He added that in 2011, out of the 106,591 cases treated at the A&E department, 82,927 were non-critical cases making up 77.8 per cent of total cases while 17.2 per cent or 18,378 cases were semi-critical cases.

Only 5,286 cases or five per cent of the total cases registered at the A&E clinic were critical cases which warranted immediate treatment.

The situation had not been better in 2012 with 107,740 registered cases, out of which 85,182 or 79 per cent were non-critical cases, 17,832 were semi-critical cases and 4,726 or 4.4 per cent were critical cases.

On the average, the A&E clinic treats about 300 patients daily while on busy days the figure could surge to over 400 and could come down to about 250 on a quieter day.

“But it is always more than 250 cases,” said Dr Abdul Rahim.

Although the hospital authorities know that they can turn away most of these cases, the doctors and medical personnel still treated the patients.

“In other countries such as United Kingdom, the patients will not be given treatment but asked to go back.

“But for us here, since they are already here and they don’t mind waiting, we still treat them,” said Dr Abdul Rahim.

He added that the hospital was forced to increase the number of medical personnel to cater to “non-critical” patients.

Presently, at any time, there are 12 nurses, 12 medical assistants and seven doctors serving at A&E clinics.

“We even engage two locums at the A&E clinic who will see patients between 8pm to 10pm
as an extra effort to serve the public,” said Dr Abdul Rahim.

He lamented that the large percentage of non-critical cases seeking emergency treatment was a blatant abuse of the facility by the patients.

“There are those who come for treatment at A&E so that they don’t have to queue up at the polyclinic the next day.”

Dr Rahim said most of the non-critical cases involved patients with flu, sore throats, fever and running nose.

He urged those who did not need emergency medical attention not to abuse the A&E facility because medical personnel trained to treat emergency cases had to attend to non-emergency minor illness while those who were facing life-threatening situations had to wait.

Dr Abdul Rahim pointed out the Polyclinic at Jalan Masjid opens until 8 pm and 1Malaysia clinics until 10 pm.

He appealed to those with non-critical illness to seek treatment at these clinics rather than going straight to A&E adding that if the cases were serious, the medical personnel at the polyclinics would refer them to the A&E.

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