Saturday, December 4

Middlemore infection: Covid-19 test before admission to hospital ‘not possible’

A case of Covid-19 in a Middlemore patient who shared a room with three others has raised questions about the screening and testing procedures of those admitted to the hospital.

A security guard worked in the Middlemore Hospital emergency department on Thursday of last week while exhibiting symptoms of Covid-19.

Medical specialists say that screening patients for Covid-19 before admitting them to the hospital is not an option.
Photo: LDR / Stephen Forbes

Midwifery Employee Representation and Advisory Services (MERAS) co-leader Jill Ovens said there was capacity for everyone who went to the hospital to be screened for Covid-19.

“We hear all weekend that we have been disappointing in Auckland by not going out and getting tested for the slightest cold and yet there are patients who show up to emergency departments who are not automatically screened.

“It seems to me that if we want to increase our test numbers, the place to start is in our emergency rooms.”

Today 20 new cases of Covid 19 were reported in the community and yesterday far fewer tests were carried out, and the number dropped to 4,750, which was half the number carried out on Saturday.

But Dr. John Bonning of the Australasian College for Emergency Medicine said that testing patients for Covid-19 before admitting them to the hospital was not an option, given the time it took for test results to be returned.

He said the Delta variant was still “really challenging.”

Dr. Bonning said that although patients were screened and screened when possible before admission to the hospital, the symptoms had changed significantly.

“We look for people with fever, aches, pains, and flu-like illnesses, but the problem is that if you add a headache, abdominal pain, shortness of breath, vomiting, muscle aches, and respiratory symptoms, almost everyone who goes to the emergency department .. “

Dr. Bonning said that gastrointestinal symptoms, headaches, and sore muscles were in some cases even more common than respiratory symptoms.

He said the most reliable test, the polymerase chain reaction (PCR), took at least 12 hours to get results and the immediate rapid antigen test was not very accurate.

“You can’t have a system where you can’t go to a room until you’ve had a negative test because then you’re stuck in the emergency department and that comes down to our perennial problem of having people trapped forever in the emergency department. “

He said emergency department personnel across the country wore personal protective equipment and, upon arrival, patients were screened in high-risk and low-risk areas, or hot and cold areas.

“It is very, very difficult to exclude these people, but we are trying.”

The director of the New Zealand Nursing Organization, Kerri Nuku, said the news of the positive case in Middlemore was disturbing to all involved and reflected a healthcare system under pressure.

She said all patients should be treated as if they have Covid-19 until proven otherwise, but hospitals did not have the resources to treat them as such.

He also knew that there were staffing problems in the wards where the patient had been.

“This kind of pressure on the healthcare system often has some flaws.”

Nuku said the union wanted to see adequate support for the nursing staff, and that around 18 of their colleagues needed to isolate themselves after the incident.

“It is unsettling for patients and staff and we only hope that it will support the nursing and healthcare staff, as well as patients and their families.”

Chronic understaffing and burnout among nurses must be properly addressed to ensure that errors and system failures do not affect patients or the community, he said.

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