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Stop avoiding hospitals: Doctors fear ‘unintended consequences’

3AW Breakfast

Doctors are urging people to stop avoiding hospitals, fearing people will die at home and there will be a backlog of chronic issues to deal with when the coronavirus pandemic is over.

Less people are presenting at emergency departments, prompting concern and the warning from medical heads.

Australia’s pathology sector has recorded a 40 per cent drop in routine testing, with cancer diagnoses among the decline.

Meanwhile, a Victorian man stayed home with severe chest pain for five days and suffered a life-threatening heart attack, telling The Age he didn’t want to burden hospital staff.

Professor George Braitberg, Professor of Emergency Medicine and Executive director at the Royal Melbourne Hospital, said some of the decrease could be attributed to a decrease in certain trauma injuries from staying indoors, and people not wanting to put strain on hospitals.

“But the overall concern we have is the unintended consequences of people who should be presenting … are for some reason staying away from hospital,” he told 3AW Breakfast.

“If you’ve got symptoms you’ve never had before … or don’t get relieved by Panadol or paracetamol and there’s question marks, then you should be seeking the same health care as you did before.

“The ambulance service is still there, emergency departments are still open, hospitals are still there.

“We don’t want people staying away with acute illnesses.

“If people look different and are behaving different, if they’ve got a facial droop, they’re having a stroke unless proven otherwise, and we’re really encouraging people to seek care.”

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3AW Breakfast
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