Return of the house call doctor
Presenter: Coming up. Need a doctor over the Easter break, or anytime really. Well, we’ve got some good news for you.
Tony: My name’s doctor Tanious from House Call Doctor. How are ya?
Presenter: You’re watching The Project.
Waleed: Welcome back you’re watching The Project. Now, with the country’s emergency rooms pack, ambos at crisis points, and over eight million triple zero calls made in the last year alone. It’s no wonder there’s been a resurgence of the humble house call doctor.
Tony: My name’s Dr Tanious from House Call Doctor. How are ya? A lot of patients call for symptoms: nausea, vomiting, pain, infections, you name it, we see it all. Just stay still ok, don’t move at all.
Presenter: In the 60’s doctors making house calls were pretty common, but by the 80’s the practice virtually disappeared. Now, they’re making a comeback and most of these mobile GPs arrive within a few hours and its one hundred percent bulk billed.
Tony: I had some background experience as an emergency room physician and then decided to come into House Call Doctor, just because I enjoy seeing patients when really no one else can.
Presenter: Doctor Tony Tanious travels more than 2000 kilometres, 6 nights a week doing his rounds.
Tony: We’re on our way now to see a three-year-old with suspected croup. How ya doing Andrew nice to meet you.
Andrew: Thanks, come on in.
Tony: what’s your name?
Andrew: He had croup about a year and a half ago.
Andrew: um, and the other time we took him to emergency overnight.
Tony: It really does range from minor to serve and some of the serve things we see is patients that ruptured appendices to something as simple as a fungal infection or a pimple. What I think is going on with you Velma is I think you have a little bit of vertigo.
Presenter: Right now, there are thousands of after hours GP around the country and over the last four years that department of health has recorded a spike in the number of patients using these services.
Tony: We’re going to see a gentleman who, argh, stubbed his toe. I don’t think it’s, I don’t think you broke it. If you did anything you may have dislocated it.
Patient: Typical Saturday night, messing around listing to the radiogram, playing records and I just stubbed my toe on the back of the lounge.
Presenter: And when you’re out on the road, anything can happen. Tony inadvertently became a first responder to a head on collision on the way to a house call.
Tony: Your lungs are ok. I’m not worried you collapsed the lung. They’re ok, their vital signs are ok, so we’re just waiting for an ambulance now to take them to the hospital and get them assessed. I’ve been doing this job for about three months now, around the metro Brisbane area we see about two thousand patients a week and of those two thousand I personally see about 150, 200 of those patients.
Presenter: And every call out and home treatment is one less patient in emergency departments, triple zero, and the ambos have to deal with.
Queensland Ambulance Service: If they’re seeing patients and they could manage them at home, we don’t need to respond. That’s fantastic for us, it allows us to get to the sicker patients.
Presenter: Services, like these, have sprung up around the country following a new government scheme that sees any urgent, after hours care one hundred percent bulk billed. But there is a real concern some operator may try to abuse the system by pocketing cash for non-urgent patients.
Council of GPs: We don’t want the McDonalds, sort of if you like, version of just attending whenever it’s convenient. Medicare resources are finite and we need to us them appropriately and respect that cost to the government and to the tax payer.
Presenter: That cost to the tax-payer is up around two hundred dollars million dollars a year, but it’s a vital service to those who can’t otherwise can’t get to a hospital. Like those in regional areas, young kids, and the elderly. It’s very rewarding to help patients and to know that you can make a difference in someone’s life.
Peter: It’s great. Well onto Tony. I’d like to apologise to Tony, but in my defence, I was really concerned about that pimple. I really was.
Waleed: This is great though. I’ve used this and it’s really good because it means like. How often do you get home from work and you don’t feel right, something’s not right and all the doctors are shut? It’s a really great way of doing it and so, well done to the Abbott government for committing the money because it’s like one hundred million dollars. And I get there’s the worry about abuse, but imagine how much money you would save by people being able to access a doctor. Your other option is to rush to the emergency.
Panel quest: Yeah it seemed like a really good example of just thinking outside the box and so, you do you take the pressure off the emergency ward, the pressure on GPs. I do want to know though how the guy actually stubbed his toe.
Gorgi: Do you think he wasn’t telling us the truth there?
Panel quest: I don’t know he was just like: what did ya do? I stubbed my toe. How’d you, do it? Listening to records.
Peter: And he’s thinking oh I’ll call a doctor and a TV crew turns up as well. Thanks, the project.
Waleed: Now for more information on House Call Doctors or a service near you head to the links page on our website.
Original Source: The Project | 22nd April 2016