x Abu Dhabi, UAE Friday 21 July 2017

Stay away from emergency unit unless it’s critical, Dubai doctor urges

Going to a trauma unit for a minor ailment is a mistake and prevents those who really need emergency care from getting immediate treatment, says the medical director of the trauma centre at Rashid Hospital in Dubai.

A labourer lying in a bed at the Trauma Centre of Rashid hospital awaiting assistance on March 3, 2014. Jaime Puebla / The National
A labourer lying in a bed at the Trauma Centre of Rashid hospital awaiting assistance on March 3, 2014. Jaime Puebla / The National

DUBAI // If it’s not an emergency, stay away from the hospital emergency unit.

That is the message from the head of the country’s busiest trauma centre at Rashid Hospital in Dubai.

Staff stretched to 100 per cent capacity by genuine critical cases are being asked to treat patients with common colds, muscle strains and other minor complaints, said Dr Moin Fikree, the centre’s medical director.

This increases the pressure on the team and delays treatment to people in genuine need.

The National spent an afternoon at the centre blogging live on the constant stream of patients and the pressures the staff face – the first time social media has been used to educate the public about the pressures on trauma departments.

About 88 per cent of the tens of thousands of patients who visit the centre every year need emergency care.

The rest could have been dealt with elsewhere, such as a local GP or primary healthcare centre, said Dr Fikree. Too many people use trauma centres for all types of illnesses and injury, even if it is not the most suitable place to treat their needs.

“Please go to other facilities,” he said. “Go close to your home. If they find out you are more sick they can send you to an emergency department and if you need an ambulance they will send one for you.”

Dr Fikree said the trauma centre had been busy since it first opened its doors on September 19, 2006.

Within minutes emergency doctors were treating 45 patients – five of whom required critical care – after a traffic accident.

“The day I opened the trauma centre we had a disaster activation,” he said. “Two buses collided. Within a span of ten minutes we have five critical care patients show up on our doorstep on our very first day.

“We opened this place and it has not really quietened down since.”

Such examples show the daily pressures on the trauma centre and highlight the importance of visiting trauma departments in a real emergency, said Dr Fikree.

The trauma centre has bays for 10 ambulances but often they spill over to an adjacent car park, he said. There is rarely, if ever, a quiet shift for the staff.

“We never anticipated this growth,” he said.

“We are now using every nook and corner we can find. We are at 100 per cent capacity all the time.

“Each single bed is so valuable.”

jbell@thenational.ae