More emergency department patients 'seen on time'

27 October, 2014

The proportion of emergency department patients who were 'seen on time' for their urgency (triage) category rose from 70 per cent to 75 per cent between 2009-10 and 2013-14, according to a report released 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 per cent in the Northern Territory to 81 per cent in New South Wales.

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

Stats show improvements

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

"Comparatively, in 2009-10, 50 per cent of patients received treatment within 23 minutes of presentation, and 90 per cent 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 per cent 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," Braddock said.

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

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

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

"Two million patients were admitted to the hospital from the emergency department, and 45 per cent of these were admitted within 4 hours," Braddock said.