ACUTE MEDICAL UNIT (AMU)

AMU highlighted on main ward block signage
The Acute Medical Unit (AMU), formerly Ward 14 and Ward 15,  is the area of the hospital where patients are assessed, investigated and treated for urgent medical problems. The area is for adult medical patients which, in Tayside, is anyone over the age of 16 years although we do link closely with the Paediatric team for patients between 16-18 years of age who are still in school.

Most of our patients come to the hospital directly from the community after assessment by their GP or community practice teams, but we also assess patients who have arrived via the Emergency Department. Once we have completed our initial assessment we agree a plan with you to meet your healthcare needs which may include a short period of time under our observation receiving treatment, admission into the wider hospital under the care of another speciality team, or home to continue your care in the community.

WHAT IS A MEDICAL EMERGENCY?

When you become unwell it can affect your whole body regardless of where the original illness started. Sometimes that effect can be life-threatening or could become so if not addressed within 24 hours. This is what we would consider an emergency requiring urgent care and assessment by someone with the right knowledge of your particular health needs at that time and the right skills to be able to help you. Because the human body is such a complex collection of bones, organs, tissues and processes no one team can know and do all of this alone and Ninewells Hospital has a number of teams like ours to help asess and treat you.
AMU pathway to the appropriate team

Where does the AMU team fit in?

In NHS Tayside the process starts with you contacting your GP with a health concern. Once your GP has assessed you they may feel that further immediate investigation or treatment is required which they may not have full access to because they work out with the hospital. In this case they would ask one of the urgent hospital teams to take over your care depending on which medical condition they felt was affecting you and which team would be best placed to look after you.

The AMU team are specialised in the care of urgent problems related to the teams within the Medicine group: Respiratory (e.g. severe chest infection or severe asthma); Cardiology (e.g. suspected heart attacks); Gastroenterology (e.g. bleeding stomach ulcers); Infectious Diseases (e.g. cellulitis or infectons picked up on exotic holidays); Endocrinology (e.g. diabetic emergencies). We also help the Stroke team with the care of patients with suspected stroke and many of the specialist Neurology patients when they become urgently unwell.

The work of the Elderly Medicine Team is a vital part of the AMU as not all patients who come into hospital have life-threatening problems requiring such intense medical treatment. For some, the referral to hospital is the result of a simple fall or series of falls or physical decline associated with the ageing process. These situations can still lead to urgent needs that cannot be met in the community even though they may not require any actual medical therapy. For this reason we not only have medical & nursing expertise at our fingertips but also our Multidisciplinary team in the form of Physiotherapists, Occupational therapists & Social Services liaison teams to maximise our patients' chances of leaving hospital quickly and safely according to their needs.

We care for over 15,500 patients every year in the AMU and in doing so we work closely with all of our colleagues to provide effective, efficient & best quality care for the population of Tayside.

What can't we help with?

Non-medical Speciality Teams
It's important for all staff working in healthcare to know their strengths and their weaknesses. As physicians trained in the medical specialities we have a very limited knowledge of the ins and outs of surgery and acute surgical problems. These are situations which require the expertise and experience of the highly trained surgical teams to not only investigate and treat, but to also know when an urgent operation is required. We would never want to put any patient at risk of harm as a result of our ignorance and for this reason our sibling unit - the Acute Surgical Recieving Unit (ASRU) - is there to be sure you're being looked after by the best people for your needs. Similarly, we can't fix broken bones and rely on the skills of the orthopaedic team for many musculoskeletal and joint related problems.

Women and Children's Health
The human body's development and changes through childhood and during pregnancy require very different training and experience to our own in the AMU and NHS Tayside has an excellent Paediatric department and Obstetrics & Gynaecology team to manage this for you.

Traumatic injury and need for immediate life-saving treatment
The Emergency Department team are highly skilled in provided immediate care when your life is imminently threatened. If your illness is so severe that you are risk of death if not treated in less than 30 minutes your care will always be given in the Emergency Department to begin with. The other teams in Ninewells welcome patients directly to their wards from the community precisely to ensure that the Emergency Department is never overcrowded and that they can administer life-saving treatment without delay. In fact, the Ninewells teams are so good at doing this our work is held up as a model of excellent practice and care in NHS Scotland.