Patient safety must come first!

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Don't be too quick to send 'borderline' patients home

My letter was first published in The Straits Times Forum Online, 22 Jan 2014

I DO not think junior doctors in accident and emergency (A&E) departments are making unwarranted hospital admissions that aggravate the bed crunch in public hospitals ("Ways to tackle bed crunch in hospitals" by Dr Leong Choon Kit; Monday).

In fact, they are fully aware of the shortage of beds and are more inclined to send patients home.

In the course of my voluntary work as a patient advocate, I have come across cases whereby "borderline" patients were sent home by A&E doctors and had to revisit the department within 24 hours after their conditions worsened. In some cases, they had to be taken by Singapore Civil Defence Force (SCDF) ambulances to the nearest restructured hospitals.

Most restructured hospitals do not charge A&E attendance fees for a second visit within 24 hours.

If given a choice, most patients would prefer to be taken to the same hospital for treatment.

Therefore, I urge the Ministry of Health to put in place a policy for A&E attendance fees to be refunded to those patients who are taken by SCDF ambulances to any restructured hospital within 24 hours of their first visit.

Lee Soh Hong (Miss)

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