INCREASE: More patients are turning to the Gladstone Hospital emergency department for non-urgent medical care.
INCREASE: More patients are turning to the Gladstone Hospital emergency department for non-urgent medical care.

Gladstone ED seeing increase in non-urgent patients

GLADSTONE Hospital's Emergency Department has seen an increase in patients presenting for less urgent medical issues over a 12-month period.

Upon arrival patients are categorised in order of urgency with category 1 immediately life threatening and category 5 the least urgent.

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Due to COVID-19 regulations, data is only available up to February this year.

In February 2020, the Gladstone Hospital ED had 1064 and 264 category 4 and 5 attendances respectively.

A year prior there were 890 category 4 presentations and 245 category 5 presentations - a 20 per cent and 8 per cent increase respectively.

In February this year 48 category 4 patients did not wait for treatment while 17 category 5 patients left the hospital before being seen.

The most common diagnosis for category 4 were sprain/strains and for category 5 plaster cast after care and wound care.

Gladstone Hospital Acting Director of Medical Services Dr Dilip Kumar said the emergency department had seen an increase in total presentations over the past few years, particular in category 4 and 5.

"Gladstone Hospital keeps waiting times for treatment to a minimum and meets key

performance indicators for the percentage of patients treated on time for each category," Dr Kumar said.

"Waiting times vary depending on what's happening in the department at that time.

"As you would imagine, our sickest and most seriously injured patients are treated first to ensure they have access to lifesaving care."

In February, the median wait time for category 4 patients was 16 minutes and for category 5 it was 9 minutes, well below the recommendations of 60 and 120 minutes.

Dr Kumar said although the ED would never turn anyone away seeking treatment it was important to note people with non-urgent conditions may have to wait longer to be seen.

"If you are unsure whether you should come to hospital, you can call the 24/7 hotline on 13 HEALTH (13 432584) to talk to a registered nurse about health information and assessment of

symptoms."

Dr Kumar also thanked the Gladstone community for their response to COVID-19 restrictions. "This has been an unprecedented year, and I am proud of our community's efforts," he said.

For information on testing and local fever clinics see: https://www.health.qld.gov.au/cq/covid-19/fever-clinics



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