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IAEM expresses ‘serious concerns’ as ED ‘crowding returns’

In the last two months patients have begun to attend Emergency Departments (EDs) “in numbers comparable to a typical April or May” the Irish Association for Emergency Medicine (IAEM) has warned.

“Unfortunately, this increase in numbers has also seen the return of the phenomenon of EDs being forced to lodge inpatient boarders i.e. patients whose care in the ED is complete but who are forced to wait on hospital trolleys in EDs until an acute hospital bed is available for them,” the IAEM said in a statement today.

“This is most evident in Limerick and Cork but many other hospitals are on the verge of seeing this scenario return.

“At a time when the advice to the public is of the vital need to ensure physical distancing with a minimum separation of 2m between healthy people, it is absolutely indefensible that crowding be allowed to occur in an ED.

“This is all the more unacceptable as many patients attending EDs are acutely unwell; are often elderly and commonly have comorbidities. These groups are at markedly increased risk of dying from Covid-19 infection.”

The Association added that the “ED is a workplace for its staff who are entitled to the same protections from harm that apply in other work environments.

“Not alone is the return of crowding and inpatient boarders in an on-going pandemic a very significant risk to patients, it also risks staff contracting Covid-19 with potentially serious consequences for them and for patients due to the consequent shortage of trained personnel.”

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