For the last few years we in Queensland have been seeing newspaper headlines about the health system being under severe stress.
Many personnal anecdotes have testified to this: people spending days on a trolley in the corridor, waiting 12 hours or more in Casualty before receiving attention. People dying on waiting lists. Ambulances on bypass for all the hospitals because there are no beds.
So I was surprised to hear today from a relative who early last week tripped over a mat, fell, and cracked two ribs. Her husband was there, but rather than drive her either to her GP to get an X-Ray, or drive her to the hospital for same, he called an ambulance. For a couple of cracked ribs!
The ambulance came within half an hour, took her to the Royal Brisbane Hospital. She was seen immediately by the triage nurse, then waited just 40 minutes to be seen by a junior doctor, in the meantime having the X-Ray.
Now, you'd think at this stage the junior doctor would say "OK, you've got a couple of cracked ribs, they'll take about six weeks to heal and there's no treatment. Go home and take paracetomol as necessary for the pain."
Oh no. She was actually admitted and remained in hospital for four days, on a morphine drip!. She was visited daily by a physiotherapist and two doctors.
When finally discharged she went home with two prescriptions for two different forms of oral morphine.
I asked if she had had any symptoms of pneumonia which could possibly account for keeping her under observation. No. Not at all.
So what has occurred has been a considerable misuse of resources.
And now here's the crunch: On leaving she was given a questionnaire to fill out, asking for her opinions about the treatment she had received.
So is our fine Minister of Health giving instructions to hospital staff to massively overtreat patients for the period of some survey so he can quote to the suspicious population an amazing level of patient satisfaction?