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More efficient emergency wards called for

TAIPEI--Twenty percent of all emergency room cases at medical centers in Taiwan in 2011 did not require urgent treatment, highlighting the need to improve the allocation of medical resources, a health official said Saturday.

Among the cases handled by emergency doctors at medical centers, 20 percent were considered secondary or non-urgent, said Department of Health official Hsu Ming-neng, while 24 percent of cases were identified as requiring critical care.

In view of the numbers, Hsu said his agency will strengthen efforts to help transfer non-urgent cases to smaller regional hospitals to help alleviate crowds in emergency wards at medical centers and improve the quality of treatment.

The number of people seeking emergency treatment in Taiwan rose from 4.95 million in 2000 to 6.67 million in 2011, Hsu said, citing data from the DOH's Bureau of National Health Insurance.

Medical centers saw the biggest increase in emergency case loads over that time, which exacerbated their lack of beds for patients, according to Hsu, who spoke at a seminar in Taipei held by the Taiwan Academy of Emergency Department Management.

Taiwan has previously tried to divert routine inpatient and outpatient services away from “medical centers” — the country's biggest and best-equipped hospitals — to free them up to provide more advanced care, and Hsu suggested that the same thing happen with emergency services.

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