Advice for people attending EDs this winter

Coming weeks will be extremely busy
  • Deborah Condon

The HSE is issuing advice to people who may have to attend an Emergency Department (ED) over the coming weeks.

The number of people attending EDs always increases during the winter months and many of these patients have complicated illnesses and complex care needs.

The HSE is reminding people that while everyone will be seen, treatment for the sickest patients and those with life-threatening illnesses will be prioritised. As a result, those with less serious illnesses may have to wait longer for treatment.

"That is why we are asking people to think about all of their care and treatment options so we can keep our ED services for the patients who need them most. For example, many patients with illnesses needing less urgent treatment can be seen and treated by their GP or referred by their GP to an Assessment Unit the following day.

"On the other hand if you are seriously injured or ill or are worried that your life is at risk, you can be assured that our EDs are open 24/7, 365 days of the year and will assess and treat you as a priority," the HSE said.

It offers the following advice to those who need to attend an ED:

-Remember to bring your GP's name and address along with any referral letter they may have given you for the ED
-It is particularly important that you bring any medications you are taking, as well as a list of any allergies or current medical conditions you might have, as this will help the doctors and nurses to better assess your condition and the treatment you have had to date. It may also shorten your waiting time as staff will know the medications you are taking and will not need to wait to hear back from your GP or pharmacist. Obviously, you may also need to take your medication while you are in the hospital
-Bring any hearing aids and glasses you may need and if you have difficulties speaking or with language, please bring someone with you who can help us communicate with you. We can arrange an interpreter if needs be but this will take time
-Keeping hands clean reduces the spread of infection, so please keep your hands clean when you come to or are in the ED. Infection control is really important throughout the whole hospital and unfortunately, infection outbreaks mean greater risks to patients, especially those more vulnerable to infection. It may also lead to ward closures as beds may have to be thoroughly deep cleaned to stop the spread of infection. This can take a lot of time depending on the type of bacteria and unfortunately reduces the number of beds available for patients coming in for care. This in turn means longer waiting times before patients can be admitted to hospital
-About 15 out of 20 people attending the ED go home after having tests or treatment in the ED. Part of an ED's job is to make sure questions are answered and clear information is provided. Before you leave, please ask yourself if you understand your condition and the treatment you have been given and do you know the next steps or know what to look out for. If you have a follow up appointment, do you know the details?

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