Caught short a bitter pill to swallow

ENSURING you are stocked up on prescription medicines when many general practitioner services are reduced and pharmacies closed for holidays can help you avoid a trip to the emergency department.

General practitioner Dr Nathan Zhou said travellers often found themselves caught out visiting families without their appropriate medication and have to seek out a general practitioner or go to the emergency department.

“Often they don’t have a whole patient history or a full list of medications,” he said.

Dr Zhou said people with strong prescription medication should be aware of pharmacies’ reduced trading hours over Christmas.

“By making sure you have all your medications it could end up saving you a lot of hassle,” he said.

Dr Zhou said people should not overlook simpler items that are essential to have in the house over Christmas and new year.

“Things like Panadol, simple antiseptics and Band-Aids are all important and if you have young children make sure you have simple household pharmaceuticals on hand,” he said.

Christmas and new year is a time when many emergency departments are under pressure with patients turning up with a range of conditions from sunburn and headaches to life-threatening medical emergencies.

But some visits can be avoided according to Orange Health Service emergency consultant Dr Colin Dibble.

“There is always a real rush over the holiday period but interestingly the further into the holiday period we get the greater the workload because people don’t have as much access to GPs or pharmacies,” he said.

However turning up at the emergency department for non-urgent treatment could involve a long waiting period while other more urgent cases take priority.

“We don’t have a vast range of medications for ongoing treatment so someone, for example, who may require medication for their epilepsy needs to ensure they have enough to get them through the festive season,” Dr Dibble said.

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