Hospitals can trim lines of patients

One in three patients who sought emergency medical treatment at the surgical unit of the Laiko Hospital in Athens could have been dealt with at a healthcare center, according to the results of survey made public yesterday. The data, put together by doctors at the hospital between February 2005 and February 2006, recorded information on patients that sought emergency care from the hospital’s surgical, orthopedic and optometry units. The survey shows that a large number of patients resorted to the hospital’s emergency services, stretching its resources, when they could have been dealt with by a doctor at a clinic. «The study shows the gap in the system in relation to primary healthcare. This does not exist in other countries, which developed primary healthcare first and then shifted their emphasis to hospitals,» Deputy Health Minister Thanassis Yiannopoulos, one of the doctors who participated in the study, told Kathimerini. Health Minister Dimitris Avramopoulos announced last year government plans to set up urban healthcare units across different municipalities to ease the burden on hospitals. Government officials are still in talks with municipal authorities over the urban centers and have yet to make any new announcements about the ambitious plan. «It is time we covered this gap, in order to ease demand on hospitals and reduce waiting lines at emergency rooms which harms the image of the National Health System,» added Yiannopoulos.