High number of patients at hospitals' emergency departments, most did not need urgent care: MOH

MOH advises the public to seek medical treatment at a hospital’s emergency department only for serious or life-threatening emergencies. ST PHOTO: LIM YAOHUI

SINGAPORE - Only people with serious or life-threatening emergencies, such as chest pain, breathlessness and uncontrollable bleeding, should visit a hospital's emergency department, said the Ministry of Health (MOH) on Sunday (Feb 6).

This allows those with severe illness in need of emergency care to be attended to quickly.

It also helps to preserve hospital capacity for those who truly need acute hospital care, it added.

The ministry said in a statement that Singapore's hospitals have been seeing a high number of patients at their emergency departments, and this has resulted in long queues and waiting times.

"Most of these patients did not require emergency care, and such unnecessary visits to the emergency departments risk compromising the standard of care for other patients who genuinely require emergency medical care," MOH added.

The children's emergency departments at KK Women's and Children's Hospital and National University Hospital have also experienced very high attendance over the past two weeks, the ministry said.

On average, there were more than 650 cases a day across both departments last week, up from an average of 450 cases a day in early January.

MOH said about 80 per cent of the patients - including those with Covid-19 infection - had mild symptoms, did not require hospitalisation, and were discharged after their visit to the hospitals.

"Among paediatric patients who were admitted, most did not stay long in hospital, and were discharged on average within two to three days," said the ministry.

"The proportion of severe Covid-19 infection and multi-system inflammatory syndrome in children remains low, at less than one out of 1,000 paediatric cases."

MOH is urging the public, including children, to visit general practitioners or a 24-hour clinic for non-emergencies.

They can also visit Public Health Preparedness Clinics (PHPCs) if they require Covid-19 testing or review for symptoms of acute respiratory infection. More than 700 PHPCs are open after office hours on selected days.

MOH also said there are six swab centres that support paediatric swabs for children aged six years and below. They include Raffles Children's Centre at shopping mall Tampines 1, Thomson Paediatric Centre at Jem in Jurong East, and Raffles Juniors at Waterway Point in Punggol.

The public can access the latest list of general practitioner clinics and their operating hours at:

MOH's corporate website

The Agency for Integrated Care's website

Community Health Assist Scheme webpage 

• HealthHub mobile application, which is available on the Apple App Store and Google Play Store.

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