Bed shortage delays emergency surgery
08:06 AEST Sat Jun 19 2004
A chronic shortage of intensive care beds has reportedly forced delays in life-saving surgery at a major Sydney hospital.
At least 58 patients have had brain surgery delayed since November because of the shortage of neurosurgical intensive care beds at Royal North Shore (RNS) hospital, The Sydney Morning Herald reported on Saturday.
Australian and New Zealand Intensive Care Society data committee chairman Graeme Hart said blockages throughout the heath system caused problems for intensive care units (ICUs).
"There is access block coming into the hospital from emergency departments ... ICU also has an exit block to the nursing home or rehab centre," Associate Professor Hart told the Herald.
"You could create more (capacity) by better utilising beds down the line."
RNS neurosurgery department head Michael Morgan said the shortage of intensive care beds was mirrored at other hospitals around the state.
Professor Morgan said patients were forced to remain in hospital for a distressing and dangerous wait when surgery was cancelled.
He said RNS had eight intensive care beds dedicated to neurosurgery, a figure that had remained stagnant since 1992.