Waiting time for emergency department care

Definition: Percentage of patients who were seen within national benchmarks for waiting times for each triage category in public hospital emergency departments. The national benchmarks are:

Resuscitation: immediate (within seconds)

Emergency: within 10 minutes

Urgent: within 30 minutes

Semi-urgent: within 60 minutes

Non-urgent: within 120 minutes.

Source: National Non-admitted Patient Emergency Department Care Database, 2016–17; Table S1.4.37.

  • In 2016–17, 73% of all emergency department presentations were seen within the recommended time for their triage category. Presentations triaged as Urgent had the lowest proportion of presentations seen on time (66%), while almost 100% of Resuscitation presentations were seen within the recommended time.
  • The proportion of patients seen on time remained relatively stable between 2012–13 (72%) and 2016–17 (73%).
  • The proportion of Indigenous Australians and Other Australians seen on time were similar at 74% and 73%, respectively. 
  • Patients living in Remote areas were most likely to be seen on time (81%), while patients in Major cities were least likely to be seen on time (70%).

For more information, see Chapter 7.10 'Emergency department care'.