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The proportion of emergency department patients who were 'seen on time' for their urgency (triage) category rose from 70% to 75% between 2009-10 and 2013-14, according to a report released today by the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW).

The report, Australian hospital statistics 2013-14: emergency department care, presents the latest information on emergency department care in Australia's public hospitals.

The proportions of patients who were 'seen on time' for their urgency category varied across states and territories, ranging from 57% in the Northern Territory to 81% in New South Wales.

Nationally, almost 100% of resuscitation patients (those requiring treatment immediately) and 82% of emergency patients (requiring treatment within 10 minutes) were seen on time.

'In 2013-14, 50% of patients received treatment by a medical officer or nurse within 18 minutes of presenting to the emergency department and 90% received treatment within 93 minutes of presentation,' said AIHW spokesperson David Braddock.

'Comparatively, in 2009-10, 50% of patients received treatment within 23 minutes of presentation, and 90% within 115 minutes, so improvements have been seen.'

Overall, there were almost 7.2 million presentations to public hospital emergency departments in 2013-14. This corresponds to over 19,700 presentations each day.

'We have seen about a 7% rise since the previous year, when about 6.7 million presentations were recorded overall. This in part reflects an increase in the number of hospitals reporting,' Mr Braddock said.

Of these visits, 73% were completed in 4 hours or less-an increase from 64% in 2011-12.

Western Australia had the highest proportion completed in 4 hours or less (79%), while the Australian Capital Territory and Northern Territory had the lowest at 62%.

For New South Wales the proportion completed in 4 hours or less increased from 60% in 2011-12 to 74% in 2013-14. Queensland also showed an increase, rising from 64% to 76%.

'Two million patients were admitted to the hospital from the emergency department, and 45% of these were admitted within 4 hours,' Mr Braddock said. 

The AIHW is a major national agency set up by the Australian Government to provide reliable, regular and relevant information and statistics on Australia's health and welfare.

Canberra, 22 October 2014

Further information: Mr David Braddock, AIHW, tel. (02) 6244 1136, mob. 0419 496 770

Full publication: Australian hospital statistics 2013-14: emergency department care