MONASH U. (AUS) — Putting general practice clinics in hospitals can reduce the wait in emergency departments by 19 percent, according to new research.
Researchers investigated waiting times in hospital emergency departments, comparing those where there are a number of emergency departments in a region with those where hospitals provide co-located genetical practice (GP) clinics.
Co-located GP clinics are special-purpose services located within a public hospital, near or adjacent to its emergency department. They provide acute, episodic primary care services such as medical consultation, fracture management, management of minor injury and trauma, and minor procedures on a walk-in basis.
Lead researcher Anurag Sharma from the Monash University Centre for Health Economics says the study found diverting non-urgent patients to co-located GP clinics was a more effective way to reduce emergency department overcrowding.
“It was believed that by providing more emergency departments in a region there would be more choice for patients, thereby reducing overcrowding and waiting times in emergency departments,” says Sharma, whose findings are published in the Emergency Medicine Journal.
“However, our study found that more choice of emergency departments actually increased the waiting time for emergency category 2 patients, who are suffering from a critical illness or very severe pain and need urgent attention, as it generated more demand by non-urgent patients.”
Sharma says diverting non-urgent patients to alternative care meant there were more resources for treating category 2 patients.
“The degree to which alternative models of care reduced emergency department waiting time was previously unknown and this study helps fill this gap,” Sharma says.
“Co-located GP clinics provide timely, safe, and accessible services for patients seeking primary medical care outside business hours and are a good alternative for patients who don’t need urgent attention,” Sharma says.
The Department of Human Services has estimated that GPs could treat about 37 percent of all those attending metropolitan emergency departments in Victoria.
The National Health and Medical Research Council of Australia funded the research.
Source: Monash University