Inappropriate offload into ambulance triage area update

  • Published November 2, 2022
  • Industries

While inappropriate patient offloads to meet KPIs are a statewide issue, the practice of offloading patients into the ambulance triage area at Campbelltown Hospital has been highlighted by members as a significant safety concern both for paramedics and patients. 

ADHSU delegates met with Campbelltown Hospital last week to discuss concerns and conduct a walkthrough of the area within the new department. Before the meeting even started, the lack of dignity afforded to patients offloaded into this area was highlighted, with a patient laid on the cold floor wrapped in a hospital blanket. According to members, this patient had been there for over three hours in a highly stimulating environment with bright lights, while other patients came and went with no patient care provided. 

Once in the meeting, ADHSU delegates drew the Hospital’s attention to a NSWA email directing paramedics not to offload to Ambulance triage for safety reasons:

‘No offload to the Ambulance Bay, if the patient is deemed by the triage nurse, not able to directly offloaded to the Waiting Room or one of the hospitals designated areas, crews must wait with patient until offloaded especially with MH patients. This to assist with the security and safety of both the patient and staff (sic)’

This email was dismissed by the Hospital.

The Hospital is of the view that offload KPIs override any safety concerns paramedics and patients might have. Delegates clearly challenged this view.

Unfortunately, any hope of a workable outcome was dashed when the Hospital condescendingly informed delegates that paramedics are incapable of understanding the complexities of an emergency department, and therefore unable to determine if an area is safe or not.

Clearly the Hospital thinks that a hypotensive patient that comes in cannulated with fluids running, in a stable condition, just got that way themselves. Paramedics are regularly called on to handle the complexity of triaging several patients at a multi-car MVA, maintaining scene control, while providing world-class pre-hospital treatment, and in all weather conditions. But according to the Hospital, a safety issue in an ED is far too complex for paramedics to comprehend.

Paramedics are healthcare professionals and will advocate not only for their own safety, but for the safety and dignity of all patients. Bans will be in effect as long as Hospitals continue to put KPIs ahead of patient care.