Over 410,000 patients visited A&E hospital wards last year – Tufton Loop Jamaica

The content originally appeared on: Jamaica News Loop News

More than 410,000 Jamaicans passed through accident and emergency (A&E) departments at hospitals in Jamaica in 2023, Health and Wellness Minister, Dr Christopher Tufton, has said.

He shared the statistic on Saturday during his Instagram live entitled ‘Accident and Emergency and how it works’.

The discussion came amid heightened concerns about the waiting time for treatment at public hospitals.

Despite having a broken leg and arm from a June 2 cycling incident in St Andrew, Tufton said it is important to provide statistics for Jamaicans to appreciate the pressures that are faced by health professionals in determining which patients will be attended to at any point through a standardised triage system.

Triage is the preliminary assessment of patients or casualties in order to determine the urgency of their need for treatment and the nature of treatment required.

The minister said the total 410,435 patient visits to A&E wards in 2023 was representative of an increase when compared to 2021, when there were some 325,624 visits. In 2022, there were more than 388,000 visits.

“It’s going up. More people are turning up at our accident and emergency wards,” Tufton pointed out.

He said 11.6 per cent of such A&E visits for 2023 occurred at the Kingston Public Hospital (KPH), which he described as the “epicentre of accident and emergency”.

KPH is followed by the University Hospital of the West Indies (UHWI) with 7.8 per cent; St Ann’s Bay Hospital – 6.4 per cent; Cornwall Regional Hospital (CRH) – 5.4 per cent; and Savanna-la-Mar Hospital – 3.4 per cent.

“On average, 15 visits per 100,000 of population goes to A&E, which really makes accident and emergency wards the dominant place of visit in a hospital setting,” declared Tufton.

“If you take it from the patient perspective, then you understand the anxieties and frustration. If you take it from the doctors and nurses’ perspectives, then you probably will appreciate the pressures that they are under,” he stated.

In analysing the 2023 statistics for KPH, the total number of patients registered from January to December was 57,972 for the A&E ward at that medical facility.

Of that number, a total of 14,758 patients were “triaged-out”.

According to Tufton, this meant that “they (the patients) were highly disappointed that they had to leave KPH having turned up at accident and emergency in 2023 wanting attention, and being told by the doctor, or the triage process – whether a nurse or otherwise – that you really don’t need to be here.”

Of the 57,000 patients registered, the minister said 22,812 persons were admitted in 2023 at KPH.

Meanwhile, Tufton said 553 persons visited KPH in 2023 with gunshot wounds; 295 persons with stab wounds; 1,118 injured persons as a result of motor vehicle crashes; and 61 burn victims.

Of the 553 persons who went to the A&E ward at KPH with gunshot wounds, Tufton informed that 33 persons died while receiving treatment, while 11 died while being treated for injuries sustained in motor vehicle crashes.

The 2023 breakdown of persons who were taken to KPH already deceased are 330 victims of gun violence; 14 victims who died from stab wounds; 28 persons as a result of motor vehicle crashes; and 17 persons who died from other critical incidents, such as burns, drowning or beating.