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Hospital bed crunch: Things to note

Published on Jan 10, 2014 11:37 AM
Changi General Hospital started housing patients waiting for beds in this large air-conditioned tent this week. The 800-bed CGH, along with Tan Tock Seng and Khoo Teck Puat hospitals, has resorted to sending patients to  Alexandra, one of the few public hospitals here with spare beds. Health Minister Gan Kim Yong said last night  that he was aware of the problem - hence, the push to add 1,900 more acute hospital beds and 2,600 community hospital beds by 2020. -- ST PHOTO: DESMOND FOO

Q: Given the current bed crunch, should I go to a hospital if I'm very sick?

A: If your illness can be treated by a general practitioner (GP), it might be better to see a GP. You will get treated faster.

However, if you suspect you might have a heart attack, stroke or other serious medical problem, call for an ambulance. Even if a bed is not available, doctors will attend to you immediately and begin treatment.

Q: Can I tell the ambulance to go to Singapore General Hospital or Alexandra Hospital which have beds?

A: No, emergency ambulances are obliged to take you to the nearest hospital.

Q: Should I take the hospital's offer to move me to another hospital?

A: Yes. Your condition would be considered stable. You will get a bed much faster and it beats waiting in a transit area.

Q: If the hospital wants to discharge me, but I still feel sick, what should I do?

A: Tell the doctor or nurse your concerns. Ask them what you should do if your illness recurs. Ask for a number to call should that happen. If you are still afraid to leave, ask that you not be discharged. But bear in mind that there are many very sick people who need beds urgently.

Do not delay the discharge simply because you prefer spending another day in hospital or there is no one to pick you up.

Q: If I have waited a long time in the Emergency Department, can I just leave before seeing a doctor? Will I be charged?

A: You may leave at any time but do let the staff know. You will not be charged. If you are at Changi General Hospital, they have a list of nearby general practitioners who can treat non-critical illnesses.