Patient numbers rising at city injury unit

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Emergency Medicine Consultant Gareth Quin. Photo: Alan Place

MORE than 20,000 people used the minor injuries unit at St John’s Hospital in Limerick City over the past two years making it the second busiest service of its kind in the country.

The unit, which relieves pressure on the overcrowded emergency department University Hospital Limerick (UHL) treated 11,100 patients last year and, with almost 10,000 treated over the first ten months of this year, it is expected that the 2018 figures will be even higher.

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As one of 11 Injury Units across the country, St John’s is open Monday to Friday from 8am to 6pm and can treat patients aged five and over for a wide variety of injuries such as broken bones, dislocations, sprains, strains, and minor burns.

Emergency Medicine Consultant Gareth Quin, who is assigned to both St John’s and UHL, said that the unit at St John’s provides an excellent service to patients with minor injury.

“Our team of doctors, advanced nurse practitioners and nurses are highly experienced in minor injury care. Patients attending the Injury Unit are typically seen and discharged more quickly than if they attended the emergency department at UHL, where patients with more serious illness and injury take priority. We encourage anyone needing to attend hospital with a minor injury to consider the injury unit option.” 

“The unit at St John’s can treat patients with broken bones, dislocations, sprains, strains, wounds, scalds and minor burns that are unlikely to need overnight admission.

Staff members take x rays, reduce joint dislocations, apply plaster casts and treat wounds by stitches or other means. They provide swift access to tests and x-rays and some have rapid access to physiotherapy services.

The units are staffed by consultant-led teams of doctors, advanced nurse practitioners, nurses, radiographers and physiotherapists.  Patients can go directly to the unit or be referred by their family doctor.

Clinical Lead of the National Emergency Medicine Programme Dr Gerry McCarthy said that many Injury Units are reporting fast turnaround times for seeing and treating patients.

“In many cases, the average time reported is between one and two hours and sometimes less so patients can save themselves long waiting times by going there instead of to emergency departments when it is appropriate to do so.”

Other minor injury units in the Midwest are in Ennis and Nenagh hospitals.

Further details at www.hse.ie/injuryunits