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patient safety

Majority of patients wait longer than six hours in an emergency department to be seen by a doctor

The results of the first ever National Patient Experience Survey show that long waiting times continue to be a problem in Irish hospitals.

OVER 70% OF patients have said they waited more than six hours to be seen by a doctor when they presented to an emergency department.

The results of the first ever National Patient Experience Survey shows that long waiting times, which have been linked with negative health outcomes, continue to be a problem in Irish hospitals.

Currently, the HSE target is for patients to be seen by a doctor within six hours.

Apart from waiting times, communication appears to be a key area of concern.

Patients also found fault with the level of information they received before being discharged from hospital or being transferred between facilities.

Discharged from hospital 

Many patients complained about being sent home from hospital without proper advice on the side effects of medication or their surgery.

The survey found that some patients said that they could not find a member of hospital staff to talk to about their worries and fears upon leaving hospital.

A total of 3,724 people (32%) reported that they were not told about the potential side effects of medication. Only 5.3 out of ten patients said they were given written or printed information about what they should or should not do after leaving hospital.

Patients said that doctors did not have enough time to discuss their care and treatment.

In addition, many patients also said that their family did not have sufficient opportunities to talk to a doctor while they were in hospital.

The survey found that several patients did not feel involved in the decisions about
their care and treatment, despite the fact that patient involvement is a fundamental
principle of patient-centred care.

The survey, a partnership between HIQA, the HSE and the Department of Health, took place during the month of May. Almost 27,000 patients discharged from a public acute hospital throughout Ireland took part in the study.

It is the largest single survey of the healthcare system in Ireland and received a 51% response rate.

This is the first time a survey of this kind has been conducted. The information will be used as a baseline in order to track progress of patients over the next number of years.

Key areas identified as areas of good experience in the health service include 82% of patients stating that they were always treated with respect and dignity throughout their hospital stay.

Of patients surveyed, 83% said they have confidence and trust in hospital staff.

Most patients, 54%, rated their experience of admission to hospital as very good.

Speaking at the launch, Minister for Health Simon Harris said the findings of the survey are very encouraging in a number of respects.

He said these figures will not be left languishing on a shelf somewhere, and committed to using them to make improvements in the system.

Harris said the survey would be repeated next year, and it would also be expanded to include maternity services.

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