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Crowded emergency room: patients will in future be sent to doctor's offices


New billing flat rate causes criticism from doctors
The hospital emergency rooms are sometimes so crowded that seriously ill people are often treated too late. In order to alleviate the situation, clinicians should in the future first clarify when the patient arrives whether an emergency actually exists or the care in the normal consultation hour of a contract doctor is sufficient. Are we now being sent out of the emergency room? In the following we inform you about the innovations and show which symptoms you should continue to immediately alert the emergency doctor about.

Rescue centers are overloaded nationwide
Whether burns, a broken leg, high fever or a stinging heart: In the evening, on holidays and weekends, crowds of patients flock to the emergency rooms all over the country to be treated there. However, many of them are actually not a real emergency and could therefore be treated in a practice during normal office hours.

In order to change this situation in the emergency rooms, from April 1, clinicians should now check in advance whether urgent diagnostics and therapy are necessary at all for the arriving patients. The National Association of Statutory Health Insurance Physicians (CBV) hopes that this will relieve the burden on the emergency departments, especially in the clinics. "Hopefully this will give doctors more time for 'real' emergencies," said Mark Barjenbruch, CEO of the Association of Statutory Health Insurance Physicians of Lower Saxony (KVN), in a recent announcement.

Two minutes for health assessment
For people who do not need urgent emergency treatment, the emergency rooms can in future charge the so-called clarification fee. According to the National Association of Statutory Health Insurance Physicians, this amounts to 4.74 euros per patient per day and 8.42 euros per night. Converted into time, this means about two minutes that a doctor then has to assess the patient's complaints.

From the doctors' point of view, however, this is far too short. Because even general symptoms such as fever, cough or headache can indicate serious illnesses such as pneumonia or severe flu. Accordingly, according to many doctors, neither a systematic survey on the state of health nor laboratory diagnostics can be carried out within two minutes.

No time to calm the patient down
"I already have a stomachache there, I have to say that honestly! This way of working is not what we ourselves expect from doctors. Patients come to us because they are worried that they mostly have a serious illness. They are unsure, they are laymen. And then I have a duty to take care of them, ”said Dr. med. Andreas Hüfner, head of the emergency room at the St. Josef Hospital in Regensburg, talking to the Bavarian Radio (BR).

The Bavarian Hospital Association (BKG) also faces the new flat-rate fee for clarification. "For such a clarification and investigation to offer an amount of 4.70 euros based on a calculation of two minutes, we consider that an affront", the managing director of the BKG, Siegfried Hasenbein, emphasized to the BR.

Use the emergency medical service in acute cases
Regardless of the different opinions on the new regulation, it causes uncertainty in many patients. When do you count as a "real" emergency? Which cases will no longer be treated in the emergency room in the future? It is important that patients take a close look themselves and assess whether they need emergency services or not. Unfortunately, the medical on-call service is (still) quite unknown, which can be reached around the clock on telephone number 116 117 if the normal practice of the family doctor (e.g. in the evening or on weekends) is not open.

"The 116117 is available for on-call duty outside the opening hours of the practice and the 112 for emergencies, for example in the event of serious accidents, if a stroke or a heart attack is suspected. Patients are well advised to contact the KVN on-call service for acute but not life-threatening complaints outside the regular opening hours of the doctor's office. There they look after experienced doctors, ”says Mark Barjenbruch.

Important: interpret the alarm sign correctly
Is it "just" a thick cold, with which simple home remedies for colds or coughs often help? Or is the pneumonia hidden behind the symptoms, which must be treated immediately and possibly even requires a hospital stay? Here, a call to the emergency medical service can often offer help.

With some symptoms, however, you should never waste time and immediately go to an emergency room or call the emergency services on 112. These include sudden chest pain or acute stinging in the chest, symptoms of paralysis, numbness, loss of consciousness or fainting as well as suspected breakage.

The same applies if breathlessness, visual disturbances or bleeding suddenly occur. Because, for example, if it is a heart attack or a stroke, every minute is crucial. The earlier treatment begins here, the better the chances of survival or recovery. (No)

Author and source information


Video: Inside the Hillcrest Emergency Room at UC San Diego Health (October 2021).