Is the problem inefficient use of emergency departments?
Many people do need to see a doctor but do not need the expensive emergency department.
Walk-in clinics are not the answer, and may be part of the problem. Many doctors choose to work in walk-in clinics rather than private practice, for the convenience and hours, leaving the remaining family practitioners with an impossible work load and many people without a doctor. Walk-in clinics lack continuity and follow up. Important things can be over looked. Walk in clinics close when they reach there “quota”.
Consider applying the positive aspects of walk in clinics to physicians in private practice, convenience for physicians and patients. If general practitioners would form co-operative groups and take turns keeping an office open on evenings and weekends. Many people would go there instead of emergency.
If there were at least seven doctors in a group it would mean one evening or weekend day per week. Reports of patients seen would be forwarded to their physicians thus continuity is assured.
Another idea for consideration, a clinic where physicians have regular hours and are on salary rather than fee for service. Some doctors may object but some may prefer it for the lifestyle.
Expanding emergency rooms will not ensure people are moved on appropriately. More important would be to expand operating rooms, diagnostic equipment and usable hospital beds.
All over B.C. hospital beds have been eliminated and administrative offices put in their place. Whole hospitals have been closed. For example, St Mary’s Hospital in New Westminister with seven fully functioning operating rooms and many beds much more suitable for elder care than an Emergency ward.
Emergency rooms should be used for emergencies – patients stabilized, stitched, casted, urgent problems dealt with then sent on to appropriate care.
The problems preventing this from happening must be addressed. Reduce the number of people coming to emergency by offering an alternative for those who need to see a doctor but not an emergency room, and clear the way for patients to move on to appropriate care.
As an aside, isn’t tying up ambulance attendants waiting for their patient to be cared for a misuse of their time? They may be needed somewhere else. A life may depend on it.
Expansion may not be the answer to clogged ERs