Covering the Goulburn and Murray valleys

Emergency department unveiled

Echuca Regional Health emergency department has taken a beating in recent times. Today we look at just one day in the department.

January 29, 2013 4:11am

Manager Craig Frew and security team member Linda Pearce.

The Echuca hospital emergency department had a particularly busy evening on January 13.

As well as the usual cuts and bruises, ear infections, chest pains and other ailments, staff dealt with two serious incidents where patients required intensive treatment and transfers to other hospitals.

All up, the ED saw 79 patients in the 24-hour period.

But it was the arrival of a patient on crystal methampthetamine (ice) that caused staff the most grief.

Staff wanted to document some of the build up to that episode as a means of showing how drug-affected patients can steal valuable resources from other patients and compound problems of an already demanding workplace.

Here is an account of the night, from ED unit manager Craig Frew and health service chief executive Michael Delahunty.

12.10pm A motorcycle accident sees a patient present at the ED.

12.40pm A patient who has been involved in a car crash arrives needing treatment.

About 1.30pm An older patient presents with chest pain. It is determined she is having a heart attack.

She requires treatment and stabilising in the ED before being air-lifted to a Melbourne hospital for further treatment.

She is in ED for about four hours before the transfer occurs.

2pm: Second patient presents as a result of a motorcycle accident.

5pm: A patient presents who is having seizures.

About 6pm A young child presents with respiratory arrest. The child is literally ‘‘blue’’ in the face.

Two senior doctors and nurses work on the child to stabilise him though the reason for his respiratory distress is unclear.

He is later transferred to the Royal Children’s Hospital by air ambulance.

The child is in the ED for about five hours.

6.30pm A victim of an assault presents at the ED.

About 1am A man arrives brought in by the NSW police who has been using crystal methamphetamine.

He is put in a multi-purpose room to be isolated where he proceeds to kick and punch multiple holes in the room’s walls.

He pulls out the wiring in one of the walls, requiring power in that room and the adjoining resuscitation room to be cut off for a short time.

He is given sedatives throughout his 12-hour stint, but these are only short-lived and when they wear off his behaviour remains aggressive and violent.

The man not only threatens to harm himself, but he threatens hospital staff.

Throughout the night security staff are required to help deal with the man and Victoria Police are called a total of four times to provide back up. The hospital has a zero tolerance policy to violence in the ED and police are called whenever necessary.

Staff from the nearby mental health service, including a psychiatric registrar, see the man about 1pm Monday before he is transferred to Bendigo for further treatment by mental health services.

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