ED deals with cruise passengers

As far as tourist hotspots go, Dunedin Hospital's emergency department is not one of the most popular, but for about 85 cruise ship passengers in the past two years, it has been a must-see destination.

Since the first cruise ship arrived for the 2013-14 season in October, 24 passengers have visited the emergency department with complaints, including fractures, cardiac issues, abdominal pain, sprains and strains, contusions, leg pains and respiratory issues.

And the number of visits looks to be on track to match the 61 visits recorded between October 2012 and March 2013.

Southern District Health Board general manager, medical directorate, Sharon Mason said staff were not concerned about the numbers coming through, but they were under some pressure to treat the passengers before their cruise ships left Dunedin.

''It depends on the acuity of both the cruise ship passenger and other patients in ED. Dunedin Hospital ED operates on an acuity based system, where those patients that are the most unwell or have life-threatening conditions are seen in order of priority.

''There can be time pressures with passengers needing to get back to the cruise ship before it leaves, and passengers needing interpreters.''

Ms Mason said the most common reasons for passenger visits to ED over the past two years were fractures (12) and cardiac issues (11).

Of those seeking medical attention in 2012-13, about 20 had to be kept in overnight for further treatment.

It effectively meant they had to rejoin their cruise at a later date or end their holiday prematurely.

So far this season, nine had been kept in a ward overnight, she said.

The emergency department is probably not the cheapest place for some tourists to visit while in Dunedin.

Ms Mason said the cost of treatment depended on the patient's nationality, the nature of the complaint, and whether they had medical insurance.

''There is limited cover for United Kingdom and Australian residents, under reciprocal agreements between New Zealand and Australia/United Kingdom.''


 Cruise passengers to hospital
 Month  2013-14  2012-13
 October  2  1
 November  3  8
 December  15  14
 January  4  11
 February  -  14
 March  -  13
 Total  24  61



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