Andre Maddison a master’s student in Community Health and Epidemiology is one of two winners of the Canadian Health Services Research Foundation’s 2009 Mythbusters Award. He received the award based on his research into whether or not primary care or non-urgent patients are really causing overcrowding and long wait times in Emergency rooms. Turns out while there is some impact it is not the primary cause.
“I started with the view that due to a shortage of family doctors, people are going to emergency departments and overcrowding them,” explains Mr. Maddison, a native of Sarnia, Ont. “But in reality, why EDs are overcrowded wasn’t known.”
While 40 to 50 per cent of cases in the ER are non-urgent patients, after extensive literature research and speaking with physicians, Mr. Maddison found that primary care patients were not overly burdensome. His research illustrated that patients in urgent need of acute-care, admitting beds, extended stay, specialists and other high demand care needs actually have a greater impact on overcrowding. “We can’t discount the affect of so many non-urgent patients, but they are certainly not the main part of the problem.”
Mr. Maddison believes it’s a system level problem, not isolated to the ED. “Emergency department overcrowding is a national problem with potentially devastating effects,” he says. “It is rooted in insufficient physical and human resources and poor integration within and between hospitals.” He went on to say that to best care for both urgent and non-urgent patients effectively, we must determine the purpose of EDs in order to best serve the patients, health care professionals, communities and the country.
Another political talking point shot down in flames.