Coordinating care between GPs and emergency departments is key to patient experience

Emergency departments can involve long wait times during busy periods. Coffs Harbour Base Hospital is seeking support of local GPs to help manage patient expectations.

Dr Alan Tankel, Director of Emergency Medicine at Coffs Harbour Base Hospital, is seeking the support of local GPs to help manage patient expectations when sending them through for assessment by the Emergency Department (ED).

‘We’re all working together for the best interests of the patient, and part of that is helping the patient to understand what to expect when they arrive at ED,’ said Dr Tankel.

‘Occasionally patients come to ED having been referred by their GP with the expectation that they will be seen immediately on arrival and that there are inpatient beds immediately available for them.

‘Obviously, this is not always possible in a busy emergency department. Some patients and their carers, who are already worried and stressed, can become quite upset and blame ED staff for not meeting their expectations.

‘Of course, our staff know managing these expectations is part of the job and we do this daily. It also helps greatly when general practice staff advise their patients about what to expect when presenting to the ED.’

Dr Tankel said he is grateful this is already happening in many GP clinics but would like to remind all clinics to help manage their patients’ ED expectations. Patients should know before arrival that they will be first triaged by ED staff and then may have to wait before they are formally reviewed.

‘Not all patients will require admission either, so outlining the possibility that a bed may not immediately be available helps as well,’ Dr Tankel said.

‘If a GP has a patient requiring immediate treatment, we urge them to phone ahead as early as possible. This coordination between GP and ED gives us time to make necessary arrangements to ensure the best possible patient experience of care.

‘We strongly value the partnership between general practitioners and emergency clinicians. We look forward to continuing to work together to improve patient experience and health outcomes.’

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