22 November 2016
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The Royal Melbourne Hospital’s Emergency Department saw a record number of 335 patients in the last 24 hours, with more than 215 people presenting with thunderstorm asthma.

This was an unprecedented surge in patients presenting to the emergency department.

To assist in the care and treatment of these patients, clinical staff from around the hospital helped overnight.

This involved emergency staff, respiratory physicians, intensive care specialists and other key clinicians as well as support staff.

Professor George Braitberg, Director Emergency Medicine at The RMH said last night’s event was one of the most extraordinary occasions in his entire career.

“We saw a record 335 patients in the 24 hour period of 21 November 2016. On a typical day in ED we treat approximately 200 patients a day,” Professor Braitberg said.

“Our bed management staff, executive, ICU and respiratory unit were enormously helpful dealing with this extraordinary load.

“And our emergency department staff were exceptional in organising a rapid triage and assessment process.

“I felt immensely proud to be part of this extraordinary team and watching them in action last night. And the dedication and care of those who stayed beyond the end of their shifts was extraordinary.”

The last major case of thunderstorm asthma in Melbourne was in 2011, but was not nearly as severe as Monday's event.

The phenomenon is thought to occur when rain or humid weather causes pollen grains to absorb moisture and burst, releasing hundreds of small particles that cause an allergic reaction.

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