Emergency waiting times 'are fudged'
The length of time patients are waiting in emergency departments is being "fudged" and the real delays are much longer than official figures suggest, a leading hospital emergency consultant has said.
Dr Peadar Gilligan, emergency consultant in Beaumont Hospital, Dublin, said the clock should start ticking from the time a patient is registered until the stage when they get a bed or are discharged.
The waiting time is currently calculated from the point when a doctor decides to admit the patient, Dr Gilligan told the annual meeting of the Irish Medical Organisation (IMO) in Sligo.
A patient could have been waiting for five hours before that, yet this time is not counted in figures from the HSE.
"The challenge in the hospital I work in is that it is often about 16 hours after we request a bed before a bed is made available to the patient," said Dr Gilligan.
"So, in other words, a patient requiring emergency admission that day waits until tomorrow until a bed becomes available to actually get into a ward.
"It compromises their care delivery, but also the delivery of care to the person who needed the clinical space that they had in the emergency department.
"What we do in emergency departments is very important. We save lives and make serious clinical decisions, and we need not to make the environment more risk-prone than it is.
"Many of the patients are experiencing the worst day of their lives and we don't want to make it any worse for them by having to provide that care in a hugely overcrowded department."