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Growing demand for emergency health services in Queensland, Australia

FitzGerald, Gerard, Aitken, Peter, McKenzie, Kirsten A., Kozan, Erhan, Tippett, Vivienne, Toloo, Sam, Rego, Joanna, & Kim, Jeong-Ah (2009) Growing demand for emergency health services in Queensland, Australia. Prehospital and Disaster Medicine, 24(2), s52.

Abstract

Introduction:

The demand for emergency health services (EHS), both in the prehospital (ambulance) and hospital (emergency departments) settings, is growing rapidly in Australia. Broader health system changes have reduced available health infrastructure, particularly hospital beds, resulting in reduced access to and congestion of the EHS as demonstrated by longer waiting times and ambulance “ramping”. Ambulance ramping occurring when patients have a prolonged wait on the emergency vehicle due to the unavailability of hospital beds. This presentation will outline the trends in EHS demand in Queensland compared with the rest of Australia and factors that appear to be contributing to the growth in demand.

Methods:

Secondary analysis was conducted using data from publicly available sources. Data from the Queensland Ambulance Service and Queensland Health Emergency Department Information System (EDIS) also were analyzed.

Results:

The demand for ambulance services and emergency departments has been increasing at 8% and 4% per year over the last decade, respectively; while accessible hospital beds have reduced by almost 10% contributing to the emergency department congestion and possibly contributing to the prehospital demand. While the increase in the proportion of the elderly population seems to explain a great deal of the demand for EHS, other factors also influence this growth including patient characteristics, institutional and societal factors, economic, EHS arrangements, and clinical factors.

Conclusions:

Overcrowding of facilities that provide EHS are causing considerable community concern. This overcrowding is caused by the growing demand and reduced access. The causes of this growing demand are complex, and require further detailed analysis in order to quantify and qualify these causes in order to provide a resilient foundation of evidence for future policy direction.

Impact and interest:

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ID Code: 28044
Item Type: Journal Article
Additional Information: Proceedings of the 16th World Congress on Disaster and Emergency Medicine
Additional URLs:
Keywords: Ambulance, Australia, Demand, Emergency health services, Emergency medicine, Prehospital care, Queensland
ISSN: 1049-023X
Subjects: Australian and New Zealand Standard Research Classification > MEDICAL AND HEALTH SCIENCES (110000) > PUBLIC HEALTH AND HEALTH SERVICES (111700) > Public Health and Health Services not elsewhere classified (111799)
Australian and New Zealand Standard Research Classification > MEDICAL AND HEALTH SCIENCES (110000) > PUBLIC HEALTH AND HEALTH SERVICES (111700) > Primary Health Care (111717)
Divisions: Current > QUT Faculties and Divisions > Faculty of Health
Current > Research Centres > National Centre for Health Information Research & Training
Past > Schools > Mathematical Sciences
Current > Schools > School of Public Health & Social Work
Copyright Owner: Copyright 2009 Prehospital and Disaster Medicine
Deposited On: 19 Oct 2009 12:09
Last Modified: 14 Oct 2013 13:18

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