Four hour waiting times – not the most important measure – George
Local MP and Health Select Committee member, Andrew George, warned commentators not to assume that the breaching of ‘four hour waiting times’ at the Emergency Department at Treliske was the most significant indicator of patient outcomes and patient safety in an acute hospital.
Commenting on news that the Royal Cornwall Hospitals Trust had recorded a high level of four hour breaches, Mr George said:
“Whilst the four hour waiting time is a useful measure for clinicians, patients groups and hospital managers, it is not the only, nor the best, indicator of patient safety or optimum patient outcome.
“Indeed, the four hour waiting time measure may even risk the distortion of clinical priorities to the detriment of patient safety. If clinicians become overly concerned with a four hour breach of a patient who is not in immediate danger to the detriment of another patient who is, or if a decision to discharge or admit to another part of the hospital which is less able to manage symptoms just to avoid a four hour breach results in a patient being put at greater risk than managing them in the Emergency Department the outcomes can be less good for the patient, though they would look better in the tick box paperwork. Is that really what we want for patient care?”
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