Pulmonary diseases are the most common reason for admission to the medical wards at Chris Hani Baragwanath Hospital. The HIV epidemic has made a major impact in this field as respiratory tract infections account for most admissions amongst immunosuppressed patients.
The general medical staff manages most patients with respiratory illnesses. However, certain inpatients are referred to the Respiratory Unit for specialist opinions and management.
The Respiratory Unit also runs a weekly Outpatient Clinic for selected inpatients, patients referred from other specialist clinics, Community Health Centres and surrounding peripheral hospitals. Most of these patients have severe asthma or various diffuse parenchymal pulmonary diseases. The weekly "walk-in" service, provided for outpatients frequently obviates admission to hospital.
The nursing staff provide an asthma education service at the outpatient clinic and also visit all inpatients admitted with a diagnosis of asthma.
Spirometry, and more sophisticated lung function tests, is performed in this unit. Fibre optic bronchoscopy is utilised for diagnostic purposes and is frequently done on an outpatient basis. Patients who qualify for long term domiciliary oxygen are assessed at the weekly Oxygen Clinic.
Regular meeting are held with the departments of Radiology, Cardio thoracic Surgery, Pathology and Intensive Care. There are also regular meetings with academic Pulmonology held under the auspices of the University of the Witwatersrand.
The consultant medical staff are also involved in teaching both undergraduates in the field of Pulmonology and in general medicine.