How home call doctors are helping hospitals
ON AN average night, Dr Tony Tanious visits about 25 patients in their home.
Out of those, about 40% would have likely visited the hospital emergency department had the service not been available.
The doctor, who travels between Hervey Bay and Bundaberg, has seen an increase in people calling a home doctor rather than rushing to hospitals with non-life threatening illnesses.
Despite this, he said people still needed to be aware of what constituted an emergency.
"I know the people I see are quite sick, but as a professional I don't think they warrant a visit," Dr Tanious said.
"To them it's an emergency, but on the scope of things compared to a heart attack or crash, it's not."
Unnecessary visits to hospital emergency departments remain a problem for the Wide Bay region, with 4541 people visiting Hervey Bay and Maryborough Hospitals in April alone.
About 50% did not need to be there.
Dr Tanious, who used to work in the Hervey Bay Emergency Department between 2014 and 2015, said he had seen a lot of people come in for minor issues like fever and rashes.
"They see that, and then immediately think meningitis," he said.
"About 50% of people didn't even need to be there."
A spokesman from the Wide Bay Hospital and Health Service said monthly data from July showed category four and five presentations (non-urgent) consisted of 45% of Hervey Bay presentations and 51% of Maryborough presentations.
"Some examples of non-urgent presentations include cough, requests for medical certificates, superficial foreign objects (splinter), mild sunburn and sprains and strains," the spokesman said.
"Our emergency department presentation numbers across the Wide Bay are not decreasing, but any expansion of GP hours, after hour clinics or home doctor visits is a positive for our community and can only help alleviate pressure on local emergency departments."