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Health Minister on hospital bed shortage: It’s taking too long to discharge patients
Health Minister Dr Fuad Khan says patients at the San Fernando General Hospital are still sleeping on chairs and floors in 2012 because the discharge time and tests on ward patients are too slow. Addressing concerns of a bed shortage at medical wards, Khan said he spoke with chairman of the South West Health Authority, Dr Lackram Bodoe, about his concerns.
“What has happened is the discharge rate is very minimal when compared to the admission rate and there are people on the wards who are there for long periods waiting for simple procedures of simple investigations,” Khan said. He lamented that some of these patients were hospitalised for over a month.
“These patients continue to take up acute bed space. I asked the chairman to indicate to the CEO and others that they need to look at this problem of late or no discharge rate and to do investigations (medical) at a faster rate,” Khan added. He noted that patients who were waiting for simple procedures could be treated at home.
“Blood tests and x-rays can be done as an outpatient rather than an inpatient so we do not need to have a patient who is waiting for tests to occupy a bed, while ailing people are lying on the floor,” Khan contended. He also called on consultants to make ward rounds twice a day.
“I want them to discharge patients who are well enough to be discharged so they can get a clinic appointment and doctors can fast-track the investigations on those who have been ward patients,” Khan explained. Asked why investigations were taking so long, Khan said the volume of requests was high.
“It is easier to keep someone in the hospital and not worry what happens rather than to send them to clinic doctors, but it is inhumane to put a sick person on a chair when a well person occupies the bed,” Khan added. Asked whether mismanagement was responsible for the bed chaos, Khan said no.
He explained, however, that doctors and nurses were continuing to do what was passed down to them instead of finding a solution based on “unconventional thinking.” With regards to the Beds Bureau, Khan said it was functioning efficiently but doctors were finding it difficult to see patients.
“The doctor has to walk from pillar to post to find the patient. The Bed Bureau is there to put someone on a bed and so far it is effective enough but consultants and senior registrars must assess patients, fast-track investigations and discharge patients for the bed shortage to be managed better,” Khan said.
He also said a bed ward would be set up at the Accident and Emergency Department so that patients who required observation could stay at Accident and Emergency for up to 24 hours instead of being admitted on the wards. For a second day yesterday, medical wards were filled to capacity but there were no shortages. CEO of SWRHA Anil Gosine said once the Chancery Lane complex was opened as a hospital extension, shortage problems would be rectified.
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