Here we go again…
There is a story in the news, this time from Australia, about charging patients who “shouldn’t be in the emergency department”. Here’s someone tweeting about it:
The Sydney Morning Herald reports:
…state-run hospitals will be given the power to impose a fee of about $7 to stem a potential rush of patients from GP clinics to free public hospital emergency rooms.
Why would they do this? Well, it seems that GP visits have been free in Australia to date. Now a AU$7 charge is being introduced to see your GP, and the concern is that it will push people to the “free” emergency rooms. So the AU$7 charge will be imposed on patients who are in the ED but “should have gone to their GP”.
And who shall police this? Who is to decide who shall pay and who shall be treated for free?
Doctors and nurses in emergency departments would decide who paid and who would be treated free of charge based on whether the patient’s condition was a genuine emergency.
Ah yes, the doctors and nurses of course! Because they’re not busy enough.
I am reminded of the phrase from Paul Batalden:
“Every system is perfectly designed to get the results it gets.”
So once again I ask, can we stop the patient-blaming? It’s not their fault for going to an ED over their GP. People go the the ED because they can. In other words: It’s the system, stupid.
[Footnote: I work in Ireland where there’s a €100 “A&E charge” for self-presenters without GP letters. Doesn’t solve the overcrowding, I have to say.]