By Ayman Adly/Staff Reporter
Workers’ clinics at work sites and companies and providing access to a general practitioner’s services would dramatically decrease the waiting time at the Hamad Medical Corporation (HMC) Emergency Department.
Dr Peter Cameron, director, HMC Emergency Department, told the Central Municipal Council (CMC) that a large number of expatriate workers and labourers usually come seeking medical aid for minor injuries or complications of chronic diseases such as diabetes and hypertension.
“If such categories of people, who are usually young and healthy, have access to proper medical services provided by a general practitioner who would follow up their cases, many of them would not have to came to Emergency and considerably ease the rush there,” said Dr Cameron.
HMC medical director Dr Yusuf al-Mislmani said many workers go to the Emergency department to get sick leave because they could not report to their work and need a medical certificate. However, if they have access to a company doctor, he would be able to issue the same, sparing workers a trip to the hospital.
Dr Cameron, who pointed out that three workers’ hospitals are already under construction, admitted that the current infrastructure of medical emergency services in the country is unable to keep up with the rapidly-increasing population.
He said the issue involves the recruitment of enough medical staff specialised in emergency medicine, whether seniors or juniors. The process of overseas recruitment of highly qualified such staff may take six to 12 months due to various procedures, whether administrative or legal. Locally-educated and recruited medical graduates, whether locals or expatriates, should be encouraged to adopt the practice of emergency medicine to make up for this.
Dr Cameron stated there is an emergency network co-ordination between HMC, Al Wakrah, Al Khor and the Cuban hospitals to ensure that these provide quality and adequate services.
Asked why not task some Primary Health Care Centers with emergency services to ease the rush at HMC, he explained that while this is a possible option, there are cases such as trauma, strokes and major injuries that require sophisticated medical equipment and specialised medical services that are only available at the HMC Emergency Department.
Dr Cameron stressed that while waiting time at the HMC emergency department is within the normal acceptable range worldwide, it is less than even developed countries and emergency services in Qatar enjoy a high level of quality compared to the standards in advanced countries.
“There is always a gap between what people expect from emergency services and what we could actually provide and have potential to do. We handle some 1,500-2,000 emergency cases at HMC a day, which places a great pressure on our services,” pointed out Dr al-Mislmani.
Regarding the extended waiting time at the Emergency Department, he said that patients are classified according to the severity of the cases. In case of a serious illness or condition, patients are given access to services immediately. Further, specialised doctors such as neurosurgeons could be called and are expected to be by the patient in 15-25 minutes to treat severe cases.
Dr al-Mislmani told CMC members that the availability of beds has become an issue because some Qatari patients refuse to vacate their beds when their condition improves or after minor surgeries and prefer to stay on in hospital for better services.
“Hamad hospital for instance have 600 beds, 70 of these have been permanently occupied for years because 90% of the patients, who could be otherwise be treated at home, refuse to leave hospital,” said Dr al-Mislmani.
CMC hosted the HMC officials to discuss with them the implications of increased waiting time of patience at the Emergency Department and how to resolve it.
Regarding the recurrence of medical errors of doctors and their consequences on patients, Dr al-Mislmani he said there are specialised committees at HMC to study such cases. They issue findings and recommendations to ensure that such errors never occur again. Besides, those who are proven responsible for the error are brought to account.
CMC hosted the HMC officials to discuss with them the implications of increased waiting time of patients at the Emergency Department and how to resolve it.