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Emergency Department

at Princess Alexandra Hospital

Our emergency department is open 24 hours a day, seven days a week. There is no need to call first, just arrive at the department at any time.

In a health emergency

You should always call Triple Zero (000) in a genuine health emergency.

Deciding to go to the emergency department

Emergency departments are here to deal with emergencies, but for minor illness or injury, there are a range of other care options to consider:

Diagram showing different types of urgent health care

Sometimes you may not be sure if your problem is an emergency. When in doubt, call 13 HEALTH (13 43 25 84). Qualified staff will advise you on what to do and if you need to go to a GP, pharmacy or emergency department.

Alternatives to the emergency department

Options for non-urgent conditions include:

  • a general practitioner—some of whom bulk bill
  • 13 HEALTH (13 43 25 84) for non-urgent health advice from a qualified nurse
  • 1300 MH CALL (1300 64 22 55) if you are experiencing a mental health crisis
  • pharmacies
  • after-hours GP services
  • after-hours help lines.

Find a GP, pharmacy or other health service using the National Health Service Directory.

When you arrive

When you arrive at the emergency department, please go straight to the reception counter. You will be “triaged” (categorised) by a qualified nurse who assesses the urgency of your condition. You will be given a rating from 1 to 5, with 1 being the most urgent and 5 being the least urgent.

Patients are always treated in order of priority—this ensures the sickest patients are seen first.

It is important to let the triage nurse know any of the following information:

  • previous health problems
  • current medications
  • if you are pregnant or breastfeeding
  • recent overseas travel
  • housing or social concerns
  • if your pain or symptoms become worse
  • if you need an interpreter.

Read more about how emergency departments work.

How long will I wait?

A doctor or nurse will see you as soon as they are able. At any time, they may have to step away to treat a life-threatening condition. This will not affect your care, though it may mean a longer stay with us. Your waiting time will depend on the urgency of your condition.

Sometimes the waiting room my appear empty or quiet. If you have been waiting a while, it is because inside the emergency department doctors and nurses are busy attending to very sick patients.

If you are considering leaving the emergency department for any reason, please talk with the triage nurse first.

What can I expect once I start treatment?

Inside the emergency department, your care will often start with an emergency nurse who will monitor you and initiate some therapies such as pain relief until a doctor assesses you.

Emergency department staff work as a team and your treating team can include doctors, nurse practitioners, nurses, physiotherapists, social workers and mental health clinicians.

As part of your assessment you may need further investigations such as blood tests and x-rays. We will recommend a treatment plan for you and discuss what options are available to you.

We encourage you to ask our staff questions about your treatment if you need more information or if you don’t fully understand.

Before you leave

  • Make sure you understand your diagnosis and any follow up treatment and recommendations. Feel free to ask extra questions or seek clarification.
  • Make sure you know when to return to your doctors and the course of action if your condition does not improve.
  • Ensure you receive a discharge letter to present to your GP.
  • Let your emergency department doctor know if you need a medical certificate.
  • Don’t forget to take any belongings (including medications) home with you.

Do you need an interpreter?

We can provide a free interpreter service for patients at our emergency departments.

It is our policy to use fully accredited professional interpreters for all medical appointments. Family or friends are usually not able to accurately translate complex medical information.

If you would like an interpreter, please let us know as soon as you arrive.

Zero tolerance to violence

We all want to be safe in an emergency. At Metro South Health, we have a ‘zero tolerance to violence’. This includes swearing, verbal abuse, and physical and verbal threats.

If you or you visitors display any of these behaviours, you will be asked to leave.

Emergency Department at other hospitals and centres

Last updated 8 August 2016
Last reviewed 23 February 2015

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