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Emergency department choices

Brisbane South PHN recently launched its Emergency Choices website, which shows how the Emergency Department (ED) is not always the best option for non-urgent conditions.

The online resource lists many free alternatives that are available, including the Healthdirect Symptom Checker, 13 HEALTH telephone service, after hours services and your local GP.

General Practices have also been hand-delivered new posters and fridge magnets to encourage patients with non-urgent ailments to see their GP instead of visiting the ED.

The key messages of Emergency Choices are:

  • patients seeking urgent medical care for minor ailments will find it is easier and usually a lot quicker to call an after-hours GP, instead of waiting for hours at busy hospitals
  • The hospital ED is intended for patients needing life-saving treatment and should be avoided if a patient’s condition could be better managed by a GP.

The Emergency Choices website uses a colour-coded scale of emergency alternatives:

  • BLUE: Getting worried? Get free customised medical information online using Health Direct symptom-checker
  • GREY: Need to talk now. Call 13 HEALTH to get medical advice from a registered nurse 24/7
  • AMBER: Need to see a doctor. Call your GP or an after-hours GP service to see a doctor 24/7.

RED: It’s an emergency. Serious illness? Accident? Suspected heart attack or stroke? Go to a hospital ED or call 000 for an ambulance.