This report provides an overview of care provided in public hospital emergency departments in Australia.
Emergency department activity increasing
In 2017–18, more than 8 million patients presented to Australian public hospital emergency departments—an average of about 22,000 patients per day. This was 3.4% higher than the previous year (compared with 2.7% growth per year between 2013–14 and 2017–18).
Principal diagnoses in the ICD-10-AM chapter Injury, poisoning and certain other consequences of external causes accounted for about one in four presentations (almost 2 million). These include fractures, burns, toxic effects of medicinal and non-medicinal substances, and other complications.
Patients aged 4 and under (who make up less than 7% of the population—ABS 2018) accounted for 11% of presentations, and patients aged 65 and over (who make up about 15% of the population) accounted for 22% of presentations.
Older patients were more likely to be assigned a triage category of Resuscitation, Emergency or Urgent than younger patients. Older patients were also more likely to be subsequently admitted to the hospital.
Around three-quarters of patients received care on time
In 2017–18, 72% of patients were ‘seen on time’, including almost all of those requiring immediate care and 76% of those requiring care within 10 minutes. The overall proportion seen on time has declined since 2013–14 (75%).
Of all emergency department presentations:
- 90% of patients were seen within 1 hour and 39 minutes. This measure was fairly consistent over the previous four years, varying from 1 hour and 33 minutes to 1 hour and 35 minutes
- 50% of patients were seen within 19 minutes, consistent with waiting times for the previous year, and similar to waiting times in 2013–14 (18 minutes).
Fewer ED visits were completed within 4 hours
- overall, 71% of ED visits were completed within 4 hours—ranging from 61% in South Australia to 76% in Western Australia
- 90% of ED visits were completed within 7 hours and 14 minutes.
- What’s in this report?
2. How much emergency department activity was there?
- How many emergency department presentations were there?
3. Who used emergency department services?
- How did emergency department use vary by age group and sex?
- How did emergency department use vary by Indigenous status?
- How did emergency department use vary by remoteness area?
- How did emergency department use vary by socioeconomic status?
4. How and why were services accessed?
- What types of visit occur in emergency departments?
- How urgently was care required?
- When did people present to the emergency department?
- Why did people receive care?
- How was care completed?
5. How long did people wait for emergency department care?
- Measurement of time in the emergency department
- How have waiting times changed over time?
- How long did people wait for care in 2017–18?
6. How long did people stay in the emergency department?
- How long did patients stay?
- How many visits were completed within 4 hours?
- How long did clinical care take?
Appendix A: What data are reported?
Appendix B: Technical notes
Appendix C: Public hospital peer groups
Appendix D: National hospital statistics related committees
End matter: Acknowledgments; Abbreviations; Symbols; Glossary; References; List of tables; List of figures