The impact we have on communities

Each day emergency departments across Australia treat life-threatening presentations and work hard to save lives. However, they’re also regularly faced with non-urgent presentations – including many conditions which can be treated by a GP.

Between January and June this year, 290,000 presentations could have been treated by a GP in Queensland alone. To help lower this number, patients are being urged to think twice before visiting an emergency department and, depending on the severity of the case, to use other services including after-hours doctors.

Here at House Call Doctor, we’re working hard to help not only our patients, but also to relieve pressure on local emergency departments.

What types of non-urgent cases are patients presenting?

According to Emergency Specialist at Logan Hospital, Scott MacKenzie, emergency doctors are finding themselves treating patients with non-urgent cases, when they should be free for genuine emergencies.

“Every extra person to be seen just means that everyone who’s already there is going to have to wait longer,” Mr MacKenzie said.

“People are coming back to get a second course of antibiotics…or coming in because they want a medical certificate.”

Data released by Queensland Health has found 32 per cent of Queensland’s hospital visits are for minor ailments, costing taxpayers $26 million every month.

As well as this, patients are presenting with non-urgent cases including:

  • Splinters
  • Bruises
  • Acne
  • Hiccups
  • Nose bleeds
  • Muscle cramps.

If you’re uncertain whether you require emergency attention, call 13 HEALTH for health advice over the phone. If you’re presenting a non-urgent case, you will be advised to visit a GP or pharmacy or to book an after-hours doctor.

Supporting research

Research published in the journal Family Practice looked into whether or not after-hours visits really do impact patients’ use of emergency departments in Australia.

The study surveyed 1,211 patients using an after-hours service in January 2016 and analysed their responses based off no preconceived idea of what the findings could be.

The results found approximately 40 per cent of those surveyed (or 486 patients) would have visited an emergency department if an after-hours service wasn’t available.

In total, 383 patients were effectively treated by after-hours doctors across in Australia in only one week, successfully relieving emergency departments.

These findings show the importance of after-hours home doctor services and their significant impact for both emergency departments and patients.