Medical emergencies given priority at A&E
-Georgetown Hospital
Stabroek News
January 23, 2004

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Treatment at the Accident and Emergency Unit of the Georgetown Public Hospital Corporation (GPHC) is prioritised, according to the nature of the medical emergency.

According to a release from the hospital which responded to an article published in this newspaper last month about the long wait persons experience at the unit, discretion should influence persons "not to misuse the emergency system, but to utilise the local health facilities and Out-Patients Department (OPD) of the GPHC when appropriate."

The hospital said that in the context of medical health care, an "accident" should cause some form of trauma or injury necessitating urgent or immediate attention.

And a genuine medical "emergency" includes difficult breathing, chest or abdominal pains, seizures, excessive bleeding and other problems.

The release pointed out that in Guyana persons suffering from various ailments decide that they are "accident and emergency" cases.

It stated that would-be patients suffering from fevers, coughs, colds, cuts and minor pains rush to the unit and parents and guardians feel that their minors deserve emergency attention even if it is more appropriate for them to visit the OPD.

Director of Medical and Professional Services, Dr Madan Rambarran, explained in the release that Guyanese generally disregarded the referral system available throughout the country, whereby afflicted persons should first seek medical attention at their district health centre.

When necessary the staff there might refer patients to the regional hospitals, or when appropriate to the GPHC.

He said too many out-of-towners chose to by-pass the local facilities even if they were available.

The release said that at A&E the triage nurse determines whether a patient "qualifies" for the emergency services available at the unit. "The triage nurse also decides how early an A&E patient sees a doctor.

In other words, the nurse determines priority most times after consultation with the doctors on call.

It is reasonable that a patient with serious unexplained chest pains, for example, might warrant earlier treatment than another who had a heavy cold or cough."

The release pointed out that the security guards at the A&E are there primarily to maintain good order among the patients who are each entitled to be accompanied by one person.