Warwick’s healthcare goes under microscope
FIGURES released by Queensland Health show Warwick Hospital is well below the state average in treating imminently life-threatening patients in the appropriate amount of time.
Just 58% of patients were treated within the required time of 10 minutes in August, which was well short of the state average of 74%.
The figures are broken down into five categories:
Category 1 - immediately life-threatening patients - these patients should be seen by a treating doctor or nurse within two minutes of arriving.
Category 2 - imminently life-threatening patients - within 10 minutes of arriving.
Category 3 - potentially life-threatening patients - within half-an-hour of arriving.
Category 4 - potentially serious patients - within one hour of arriving.
Category 5 - less urgent patients - within two hours of arriving.
As an example, Category 2 can encompass patients with chest pain and could be going into cardiac arrest, moderate to severe asthma or someone who has overdosed on painkillers and is feeling drowsy.
A spokesman for Queensland Health Minister and Member for Southern Downs Lawrence Springborg said the figures were an aberration.
"The hospital has had a heavy flu season and the numbers in terms of patients show there have been a lot of Category 4 or 5 patients," the spokesman said.
"We normally get concerned if the number of Category 4 and 5 patients makes up 50% of the overall number of patients.
"Last month, 70% of patients were a Category 4 or 5 patient.
"If you look at the percentages for Category 2 patients being treated within the appropriate time in preceding months, they have all been much higher and in accordance with the state average."
The spokesman said people needed to remember the Emergency Department was for people who needed urgent treatment.
"The Emergency Department is for that, emergencies - it's not the sniffle department," he said.
"The flu season has been horrendous but we need to get the message out there that people shouldn't go to the ED if it isn't an emergency."
The spokesman said he expected the percentage of people being treated in a prompt manner would return to around the state average in the near future.
"The numbers are generally much higher and we totally expect it would be fixed when the next lot of figures come out," the spokesman said.
"We anticipate the next lot of numbers will be much closer to the state average."
However the spokesman said it was a concern the percentages dropped like they did.
"It is disturbing, it's not something you want to see tail off," he said.
"There is no reason and no excuse for it. Even with the high number of flu cases, urgent people need to be triaged and treated.
"Sometimes there could be extenuating circumstances such as a case being a speciality and a doctor for that speciality being tied up with another serious case.
"That hasn't been put up as a reason in this instance."
The spokesman said the Darling Downs Hospital and Health Service and Mr Springborg would sit down and look at ensuring the numbers did not drop again.
"The Hospital and Health Service will look at what could be done in the future," the spokesman said.
"It has been an aberration but we will respond and make sure it doesn't happen again."