The Health Ministry on Jan. 31 announced that procedures in emergency wards at state hospitals will undergo a “reformation period” to cover rising patient demands, amid reports in daily Hürriyet about poor hospital conditions across Istanbul.
Among the changes targeted by the ministry is a two-hour limit in short-stay units of emergency wards around the country. “Interim” beds will be placed in emergency rooms to solve bed shortage problems in intensive care units and emergency ward personnel will work on a shift-based system, according to the ministry’s announcement.
The memorandum, signed by Health Minister Ahmet Demircan, also foresees that clinical patients will no longer be treated in emergency wards.
The restructuring will be urgently implemented in 63 hospitals that have the most difficulty responding to emergency ward demands, according to the statement.
In terms of new procedures, hospital staff will immediately determine the severity of a patient’s health problems using color coding, from red to yellow to green. If the severity of patient’s health problem is not deemed “red ” or “yellow,” the patient will be given a “Green Area 1” code and these patients will be examined in the general examination rooms within the emergency ward.
Polyclinics responding to “Green Area 2” codes will also be established outside emergency wards, close to residential areas, in order to help respond to patients suffering from pedagogical diseases, internal diseases, ear-nose-throat disorders, orthopedic problems and traumas.
All patients who have been submitted to a ward’s “yellow zone” and have stayed there under medical observation for two hours will have to be transferred to the acute inpatient ward for further treatment.
Through such measures, the ministry aims to address the issue of long stays in emergency wards.
According to the changes foreseen, laboratory and radiology procedures in emergency wards will also be expedited.
Daily Hürriyet on Jan. 30 published a report based on impressions of the emergency rooms of six different hospitals in Istanbul over the course of one night following complaints about overcrowding. The report depicted shocking hygienic conditions and waiting times in emergency rooms of up to two hours.
In almost all of the hospitals that Hürriyet visited, relatives of patients were seen arguing with security personnel due to long wait times.
“Even patients who simply have the flu come to emergency rooms either because they are unable to find an appointment during the day or they are unable to take time off from work. But even during office hours the situation is not so different. Hospitals are always very crowded,” one health worker at the Bakırköy Dr. Sadi Konuk Training and Research Hospital on the European side of the city told Hürriyet.