Upgrades at UHL will mean shorter waiting times

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Patients at University Hospital Limerick (UHL) will have quicker access to their results thanks to new diagnostics in the hospital’s emergency department.

Expected to improve patient flow and provide a better all-round patient experience, the new equipment includes a state-of-the-art CT scanner which will provide enhanced images and enable rapid access to CT within the new ED  department. Currently patients are transferred to the radiology department for CT imaging.

The  CT scanner will be mounted on a track which will allow it to move between rooms in the ED, allowing  for imaging  of the most seriously ill patients without the requirement to transfer to the radiology department.

The new department will have two Digital X-Ray rooms with the most up-to-date equipment, allowing for easier imaging of trauma patients who cannot be moved until their X-rays have been cleared. One of these X-ray rooms will also include a digital OPG X-ray machine for dental work and the lower face.

Four additional radiographers are being  recruited to support  radiology service delivery in the new department.

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Up to 70% of clinical diagnoses are dependent on laboratory test results and while the Department of Pathology already provides a 24-hour service to the existing ED, a number of improvements are planned for the new department.

The €18 million development is due to be handed over by the contractors at the end of this month, it will then take a number of weeks to commission the new equipment, to induct staff on the new environment and to train staff on the state-of-the-art equipment.

UL Hospitals Group CEO Colette Cowan commented: “ New diagnostic equipment within the department will help minimise delays for patients and spare them the inconvenience of trips to and from the radiology department. It does not mean the new ED is suddenly a referral centre for scans and other diagnostics tests; rather the equipment is for the diagnosis of patients appropriately in the Emergency Department. The criteria and referral pathways around who needs to go to the ED, who needs to go to their Injury Unit and who needs to go to their GP  remain unchanged.”

Dr Gareth Quin, Consultant in Emergency Medicine, UHL, said: “There is no doubt that rapid access to high-quality diagnostic imaging and other tests is key to efficient and effective emergency care. This requirement has informed every stage of the design and construction of our new Emergency Department. The most significant diagnostic innovation in the new ED is the mobile CT scanner in the Resuscitation area. This will allow us to bring the scanner to the sickest and most seriously injured patients rather than having to bring the patient to the scanner. This state-of-the-art scanner is the first of its kind in Ireland and is just one of the ways in which patients attending our new department will receive a much enhanced service.”