“A Melbourne mental health provider has ordered its hospitals to discharge at least three mental health patients each day” – ABC News, Jan 2015.
The impact of patient flow and the discharge of patients in Australian hospitals has been the topic of conversation and an issue for the past ten years. There have been various methods rolled out in an attempt to rectify these issues including the implementation of an electronic module which focuses on a Patient Flow Portal (PFP) involving measuring the length of stay, estimated date of discharge, recording of waiting and for what reasons, and a predictive tool.
In saying this, we are entering he second half of 2015 and we are continuing to face the consequences of patient flow – hospitals from around the country are struggling to provide patients with an appropriate and timely level of care and there is yet to be a revolutionary or sustainable resolution.
In January this year, The Bed Access and Patient Flow Document issued by Monash Health instructed staff to discharge a minimum of three patients a day from all mental health wards. “Monash Health said the health service recognised the need to plan for three patients to be discharged per day, but it was a target not a mandate.”
Medical Director of Mental Health, Professor David Clarke had this to say about the document: “It’s one of the most alarming documents that we’ve ever seen. Their intention is to put the system before patient care, particularly for mental health, this is a very disturbing and dangerous action on the part of the health service if they intend proceeding down the path”.
The document also instructed daily handover meetings to be renamed “discharge planning meetings” in which at least five patients are to be identified as for discharge.
Yes, Australian hospitals serve to be an institution in which patients should receive medical care and treatment, efficiently and to a high level. In saying this, has this document and this mindset for the future of Australian health care gone too far? Does this method put patients and staff in danger? Does this method manipulate patients to make the health system work for hospital administrators?
The next conference in this series, Whole of Hospital Strategies to Improve Patient Flow, takes place in May 2016. Book your place by February 19th to save $400.