Putting Dollars And Statistics Ahead Of Patients

13 Jan 2009
Doctors in hospital emergency departments are under increasing pressure from administrators to allow nursing teams to take responsibility for patients without being seen by a doctor.

AMA President, Dr Rosanna Capolingua, said the practice had come under scrutiny in NSW where it had been linked to the deaths of two patients.

“This puts patients attending emergency departments at significant risk.  The AMA is urging health ministers and hospital administrators across Australia to ban the practice immediately.

“The practice was apparently introduced to save money and improve performance indicator statistics,” Dr Capolingua said.

“This is putting dollars and statistics ahead of patients - it is quite simply unacceptable.

“Nurses provide excellent care for patients who have been diagnosed and stabilised, but they are not trained to deal with rapidly changing and often ambiguous signs of trauma or illness without the support of a doctor.

“All Australians rely on hospital emergency departments. We deserve, and should expect, the best possible medical care. The emergency department is no place for cost cutting.”

Dr Capolingua said doctors in public hospitals were fighting a constant battle balancing caring for their patients with the demands for cut backs.

“These doctors enjoy enormous support from patients and the community – it’s time this support was reciprocated by health ministers and bureaucrats.

“We all recognise the need for belt tightening in uncertain economic times, but sacrificing patient care to save a few bucks is totally unacceptable.

“Health ministers around Australia need to commit to eradicating this practice from our hospitals before more patients pay with their lives.”

13 January 2009

CONTACT: Kirk Coningham   02 6270 5477 / 0417 142 467