Code Yellow Declarations on Hospitals in Queensland

Code Yellow has been declared on two of the largest hospitals in Queensland. A declaration that means the health institution cannot meet public demand.

The Royal Brisbane and Women’s Hospital (RBWH) have been facing a serious concern of scarcity of bed capacity to admit ailing patients, reportedly in the past 24 hours. Multiple surgeries were cancelled due to an abrupt malfunction with the sterilization machines at the hospital that were then immediately taken offline.  Queensland Health is refusing to divulge on the exact state of affairs, amidst reports that patients are being transferred to other hospitals. “We are experiencing a high level of demand for beds, and staff are asked to focus on clinical priorities and facilitate discharge where appropriate,” read a memo to staff.

Though these hospitals are seemingly taking patients into ED (Emergency Department), ones requiring admissions are being transferred to other hospitals. The problem is largely owing to people visiting ED for every ailment. The beginning of this year saw other hospitals being declared code yellow. Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk and Health Minister Steven Miles personally appealed to people to only visit an ED in South-East Queensland if they were critically ill.

The opposition is reacting to the series of code yellow declarations. Opposition Leader Deb Frecklington said patients deserved to know when surgeries would resume. “Now we hear the RBWH is on code yellow like the PA — this is unacceptable. It is a distressing situation, there are many people that desperately need these operations and it’s unacceptable that they’ve now been pushed back down the list, and I really feel sorry for them,” she said.

Two of Queensland largest hospitals have been placed on “code yellow” as pressure mounts while health authorities grapple with fixing a sterilisation malfunction at one of the facilities.

Key points:

  • A hospital is declared code yellow when it is full and cannot meet public demand
  • The ABC understands patients have been transferred from the PA to other hospitals
  • The State Opposition says people deserve to know when surgery will resume

The Royal Brisbane and Women’s Hospital (RBWH) is the latest to be placed on alert after an “acute shortage of bed capacity” in the past 24 hours.

“We are experiencing a high level of demand for beds, and staff are asked to focus on clinical priorities and facilitate discharge where appropriate,” a memo to staff read on Friday morning.

A code yellow declaration is made when a hospital is full and cannot meet public demand for the local area health service.

Dozens of surgeries have been cancelled since sterilisation machines at the hospital were taken offline, but Queensland Health is refusing to reveal exactly how many have been postponed.

An internal email obtained by ABC News showed patients have been transferred to other hospitals, potentially adding to capacity issues elsewhere.

“All patients that may require a surgical admission should be assessed in ED (the emergency department) as requested by ED staff,” the email stated.

“If the patient requires admission, arrange transfer to another facility.

“Generally outpatients will be deferred until the hospital is back to normal activity.”

‘This is unacceptable’

Opposition Leader Deb Frecklington said patients deserved to know when surgeries would resume.

“Now we hear the RBWH is on code yellow like the PA — this is unacceptable,” she said.

“It is a distressing situation, there are many people that desperately need these operations and it’s unacceptable that they’ve now been pushed back down the list, and I really feel sorry for them.”

Earlier this year, Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk and Health Minister Steven Miles personally appealed to residents to avoid going to emergency departments in South-East Queensland unless they were critically ill, after a number of hospitals were placed on code yellow during of a spike in demand.