Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2007 Week 11 Hansard (Thursday, 15 November 2007) . . Page.. 3450 ..
MR SPEAKER: Order, members!
Mr Stanhope: That was an expression of support, was it, Mr Stefaniak?
MR SPEAKER: Chief Minister, order!
MS GALLAGHER: I thank Mrs Burke for the question. I am not sure what the issue is here. When people present to the emergency department, they present to the triage nurse, who asks questions of the patient as they are standing in front of them. That is entered into the computer at the time. Then they take a seat until they are seen—actually, then they go to the admission person, who is right next door to the triage nurse, where they present their Medicare card and answer a few other questions. Then they sit down and wait to be seen. Observations can be done—when they are taken into an observation room and they have their temperature checked and so on. But that happens after the initial triage. I am not sure what is different about what normally happens and the circumstances in the question that you have asked, in that sense that the triage station is a nurse and the patient does present in front of them, so they see them and they ask them a range of questions. That is how triage is performed at every emergency department. Maybe in the supplementary Mrs Burke can clarify what she is saying about the six patients, because I am just not clear on it.
MR SPEAKER: Supplementary question, Mrs Burke?
MRS BURKE: Thank you. Apparently it would appear that groups of people are presenting at the desk at one hit—six at a time. Details are being taken from those patients verbally and no initial examination is being carried out. The patients are then told to sit and wait, as you have just explained, but they are not taken away for quite a considerable amount of time. Observations are done on the patients—
MR SPEAKER: Come to the question, please, Mrs Burke.
MRS BURKE: I was giving the minister the background to the supplementary.
MR SPEAKER: Preambles are not permitted.
MRS BURKE: Minister, what assurances can you provide that this practice does not increase the risk of poor outcomes for people presenting to the emergency department?
MS GALLAGHER: We have been very clear around our triaging processes at the Canberra and Calvary hospitals. In fact, recently—certainly within the last year—we have had a review into the triaging of patients, as part of a number of reviews that have been done at my request, looking at different aspects of the emergency department. One of those was around triage—just to make sure that the triaging was occurring as it should. The advice that I received back was that the triaging processes were being done as they should be done. In relation to groups of people, I am just not certain about that. I cannot speculate. It may be a family group.
Mrs Burke: No, they were individuals.