Emergency rooms split up after conflicts

Emergency rooms split up after conflicts

Health officials are set to divide up emergency rooms (ER) in state-run hospitals into two separate zones, in a bid to reduce conflicts between doctors and patients.

The policy to treat patients with severe conditions in a separate ER area from other patients got the green light from the National Health Security Office (NHSO) yesterday.

The NHSO oversees the Universal Health Coverage scheme, or "Gold Card" programme.

The Public Health Ministry will pilot divided ER areas at 21 state hospitals, starting this Dec 1, Public Health Minister and NHSO board chairman Anutin Charnvirakul said.

Even patients not suffering from a critical condition and those with a "general illness" can now seek treatment from emergency rooms, he added.

The new ER policy comes in a response to mounting disputes between patients and medical staff. Many patients have been denied treatment in ER by medical staff who say their conditions do not warrant emergency care.

The Public Health Ministry plans to expand the number of hospitals with dual ER zones to 34 across the country within 12 months.

The NHSO Board also gave the green light to a budget of 157 million baht to upgrade after-hours medical services in 2020, including those in emergency rooms.

"The budget request will increase the financial burden on the government, but it will help relieve overcrowding in ER and increase pay for staff, Mr Anutin said.

The NHSO board expects the number of patients seeking after-hours treatment to account for 10% of outpatients.

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