Hospital slashes waiting times
St John of God Murdoch ED boss Dr Paul Bailey and nurse manager Gail Chambers. Picture: Michael O'Brien/The West Australian

Perth's only 24-hour private hospital emergency department has slashed its average waiting time to be seen by a doctor to 16 minutes, using an "express system" and seeing more patients in order of their arrival.

St John of God Hospital Murdoch was ranked this month as having one of the best emergency departments in the country by the global health organisation surveyors Press Ganey.

Business is booming, despite patients having to pay a non- refundable flat rate fee of $290 to be treated.

Nurse manager Gail Chambers said the department had worked hard to become more efficient and this had led to a dramatic reduction in waiting times.

Two years ago, patients at the unit waited an average of 45 to 50 minutes to see a doctor but that had fallen to 20 minutes this year, with this month averaging 16 minutes.

The department treats about 22,000 patients a year - about half the number at some of Perth's big public hospitals.

Emergency medicine director Paul Bailey said waiting times had been cut by re-engineering the routine from the time a patient arrived to when they were admitted or discharged.

"This includes a 'straight-through' brief triage, bedside registration when the clinical area of the emergency department is under capacity, and a focus on putting patients in contact with our doctors in a timely manner," he said.

"Many patients are now seen in order of arrival, rather than the more complex Australasian Triage Scale system many other emergency departments use."

Dr Bailey said there were now more nurses, including a nurse practitioner, and extra medical staff in peak times.

The department had also introduced a rapid diagnostic test service. There was more focus on training and education, with the appointment of a professor of emergency medicine to ensure the quality of medical care was not compromised by treating patients more quickly.

Even with the opening of the nearby Fiona Stanley Hospital emergency department, which is expected to treat up to 100,000 patients a year, Dr Bailey expects demand for the private casualty department to remain strong.

The hospital is midway through a $200 million redevelopment.

The West Australian

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