Patient and service characteristics

Patient demographics

There was a difference in the age profile for mental health-related ED presentations compared with all ED presentations in 2015–16. Mental health-related ED presentations had a higher proportion of patients aged 15–54 (78.5%) compared with all emergency department presentations (48.9%). By contrast, there was a lower proportion of patients aged less than 15 (3.8%) compared with all emergency department presentations (21.7%) (Figure ED.2).

Figure ED.2: Emergency department presentations in public hospitals, by age group, 2015–16

Vertical bar chart showing the percentage of mental health-related emergency department presentations and total emergency department presentations in public hospitals by age group in 2015–16. For mental health-related presentations, the percentage of those aged less than 15 years was 3.8 per cent, 15–24 21.7, 25–34 21.8, 35–44 20.6, 45–54 14.4, 55–64 7.4, 65 and over 10.3. For total presentations, the percentage of those aged less than 15 years was 21.7 per cent, 15–24 13.7, 25–34 13.8, 35–44 11.2, 45–54 10.2, 55–64 9.0, 65 and over 20.3. Refer to Table ED.3

Source: NNAPEDCD

Source data: Mental health services provided in emergency departments Table ED.3 (96KB XLS)

Males had a higher proportion of mental-health related ED presentations than females (52.1% and 47.9% respectively) in 2015–16. By contrast, males and females were more equally represented in all ED presentations (50.5% and 49.5% respectively).

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, who represent about 3% of the Australian population (ABS 2016 ), accounted for 10.1% of mental health-related ED presentations, compared with 6.3% of all ED presentations.

Principal diagnosis

Data on mental health-related presentations by principal diagnosis is based on the broad categories within the Mental and behavioural disorders chapter of the ICD‑10‑AM (Chapter 5). See data source for more details on diagnosis codes.

More than three quarters (77.2%) of mental health-related ED presentations were classified by four principal diagnosis groupings in 2015–16 (Figure ED.3). These were:

  • Mental and behavioural disorders due to psychoactive substance use (F10–F19; 28.6%)
  • Neurotic, stress-related and somatoform disorders (F40–F49; 25.6%)
  • Mood (affective) disorders (F30–F39; 11.8%)
  • Schizophrenia, schizotypal and delusional disorders (F20–F29; 11.2%).

Figure ED.3: Mental health-related emergency department presentations in public hospitals, by principal diagnosis, 2015–16

Horizontal bar chart showing mental health-related emergency department presentations in public hospitals by principal diagnosis in 2015–16. By ICD-10-AM-code F10–19 made up 28.6 per cent of presentations, F40–F49 25.6, F30–39 11.8, F20–29 11.2, F99 9.7, F00–F09 6.9, F60–F69 2.7, F90–F98 2.5, F50–F59 0.9, F80–F89 0.1 and F70–79 0.0. Refer to Table ED.4

Key

F00–09: Organic, including symptomatic, mental disorders
F10–19: Mental and behavioural disorders due to psychoactive substance use
F20–29: Schizophrenia, schizotypal and delusional disorders
F30–39: Mood (affective) disorders
F40–48: Neurotic, stress-related and somatoform disorders
F50–59: Behavioural syndromes associated with physiological disturbances and physical factors
F60–69: Disorders of adult personality and behaviour
F70–79: Mental retardation
F80–89: Disorders of psychological development
F90–98: Behavioural and emotional disorders with onset usually occurring in childhood and adolescence
F99: Unspecified mental disorder

Source: NNAPEDCD

Source data: Mental health services provided in emergency departments Table ED.4 (96KB XLS)

Service characteristics

Triage category

When presenting to an emergency department, patients are triaged to assess their need for care and an appropriate triage category is assigned to reflect priority for care. For example, patients triaged to the ‘emergency’ category are assessed as requiring care within 10 minutes. However, care may or may not be received within the designated time frames.

The majority of mental health-related ED presentations in 2015–16 (77.5%) were classified as either urgent or semi-urgent (Figure ED.4). This figure is similar to all ED presentations (79.3%) ((AIHW 2016 ).

Figure ED.4: Emergency department presentations in public hospitals, by triage category, 2015–16

Horizontal bar chart showing emergency department presentations in public hospitals by triage category in 2015–16. For mental health-related presentations the resuscitation triage category 0.9 per cent, emergency 12.8, urgent 46.9, semi-urgent 30.6 and non-urgent was 8.8. For all emergency department presentations resuscitation was 0.7 per cent, emergency 12.1, urgent 36.0 and non-urgent 9.5. Refer to Table ED.1

Source:  NNAPEDCD

Source data: Mental health services provided in emergency departments Table ED.1 (96KB XLS)

Episode end status

The most frequently recorded ‘mode’ for ending a mental health-related ED presentation was for the episode to have been completed without admission or referral to another hospital (60.8%).

Around a third (35.9%) of presentations resulted in admission to hospital, either where the emergency service was provided (32.0%) or referred to another hospital for admission (3.9%). This was slightly higher than the proportion of all ED presentations resulting in admission either to the presenting hospital (29.4%) or to referral to another hospital for admission (1.8%) (AIHW 2016 ).

A small proportion of mental health-related ED presentations ended when the patient left before the service was completed, either after care had commenced but before it was complete (2.8%) or because the patient did not wait to be attended by a health care professional (0.4%).


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