Outpatient triage system geared to ensure urgent cases get priority
I refer to the letters from Kay Chong Soy (“Long wait to see specialist at public hospital”, March 4) and Rachel Cartland (“Time to deal with public hospital delays”, March 7), and would like to explain the existing triage arrangements of public specialist outpatient clinics.
We understand patients’ concern over the long wait for consultations at specialist outpatient clinics. Given the high demand on specialist outpatient services, we have a triage system in place to ensure priority and prompt treatment is given to patients with more acute clinical conditions.
New appointments are arranged according to patients’ clinical conditions at the time of referral. These referrals are usually first screened by an experienced nurse and then reviewed by a doctor with specialist qualifications.
Patients classified as urgent and semi-urgent cases would have an appointment within two weeks and eight weeks, respectively.
Depending on the total number of patients on the waiting list, the waiting time for relatively stable patients (the routine cases) would therefore be longer and vary from time to time. This triage system aims to provide prompt treatment to patients with more urgent medical needs.
If a patient’s condition changes before the appointment, he or she may contact the clinic concerned and request an earlier appointment.
If the condition is acute, the patient is advised to seek immediate treatment at the accident and emergency departments.
For the case mentioned in the letters, we have been in contact with the patient to offer assistance under the existing mechanism.
We thank patients for expressing their views and we will make every effort to provide quality medical services amid rising demand and public expectations.
Dr Albert Lo, hospital chief executive, Queen Elizabeth Hospital