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gq-logoVancouver General Hospital (VGH) is one of Canada’s largest and busiest hospitals. It offers highly specialized services to residents throughout the province of British Columbia (B.C.). The VGH emergency department (ED) is B.C.’s second busiest, and its only accredited level one trauma centre (a special designation recognizing the most comprehensive facilities and services). In 2012/2013 there were 84,315 visits to the ED. Admissions have increased 13.5% since 2009/10. The ED is staffed with 245 doctors, nurses, social workers, physiotherapists and administration staff. This figure doesn’t include countless casual/on call staff, and other staff who work in the ED but aren’t a part of the official team.

ED staff are at the “front door” of the hospital and for many patients it is their first introduction to the health care system. Although hospitals and emergency departments are getting busier as the population ages and more chronic diseases develop, health care spending is not growing in step with the rising patient numbers. ED staff and management are trying to cope with these challenges without additional financial or human resources. VGH staff are also overwhelmed with a growing number of initiatives (such as offering routine HIV testing and stepped up hand hygiene campaigns).

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