When should a patient visit a minor injury unit?

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We are all aware that A&E departments are under huge capacity and financial strain. Of course, if a patient is seriously ill or in pain and requires the services of emergency staff then this will always be the best course of action. But sometimes patients have minor illnesses or injuries (such as occupational or sporting injuries in particular) that are not life threatening or severe enough for a trip to A&E.   As competent healthcare professionals it’s vital that they can recognise minor ailments quickly in order to treat – or redirect – patients appropriately. So what steps should they take?

Contact their GP surgery

If they are able to, patients should ring their own surgery for an on-the-day appointment. If it’s after hours they can still ring, but they may be directed to an out-of-hours service. This is usually the case between 6.30pm to 8am on weekdays, as well as on weekends and bank holidays.

Call NHS 

Patients who call NHS 111 will be able to receive advice over the phone, or they will be directed to the local service that’s best suited to their needs. This could be a hospital, an MIU or elsewhere.

Minor Injuries Units (MIUs)

If a patient’s injury is not serious, they can visit a minor injuries unit (MIU) for help, rather than going to A&E. This will free up much needed time and resource to A&E staff so they can focus on people with serious, life-threatening conditions – plus it can save patients a long wait.   Every year, around 7 million people used type 3 A&E services (UCCs, WiCs and MIUs) in England. MIUs are generally led by nurses and patients don’t need an appointment.

Some walk-in centres and MIUs do not have facilities to treat infants and toddlers, depending on the capacity, skill levels and resources available at that particular location. Therefore it’s recommended that patients contact their nearest MIU or walk-in centre beforehand to check whether their child can be treated there.

What can MIUs treat?

Minor injuries units can usually treat things like:

  • Broken bones
  • Sprains and strains
  • Injuries to the back, shoulder and chest
  • Wound infections
  • Minor head injuries
  • Minor burns and scalds
  • Minor eye injuries
  • Insect and animal bites

In recent years there has been a move towards more natural remedies so it might be worth discussing this with your health care provider particularly for ailments like back pain and inflammation.

What can MIUs not treat?

Minor injuries units cannot treat:

  • Breathing difficulties and/or chest pain
  • Major injuries
  • Stomach pains
  • Problems usually dealt with by a GP
  • Pregnancy/gynaecological problems
  • Overdoses
  • Allergic reactions
  • Mental health problems
  • Alcohol/drugs related problems
  • Conditions that are probably going to need hospital admission

Are you on the front line when it comes to dealing with minor injuries?

If you’re a nurse, junior doctor or other allied health professional who regularly sees patients with minor injuries then you may find this Minor Injuries Essentials CPD course helpful. It’s accredited by the Royal College of Nursing and focusses on community practitioners who are required to carry out effective basic injury review and care.  It’s a 3-day course worth 21 hours of CPD with dates available in   March 2020.

Personal Injury attorney

While not something any of us want to think about, sometimes injuries can have a serious albeit short term impact on your life and you may need to enlist the help of a specialist such a personal injury attorney in this area to help you secure the best outcome, for example loss of wages, medical expenses and what attorneys refer to as human cost such as the hurt caused by the pain and suffering and mental anguish. Having been unfortunate enough to have been in this position before I can tell first hand how stressful it is.  Therefore seeking out help early is ctirical.

Note: This is a collaborative post
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