Emergency department choices

Are you unsure if you should go to the Emergency Department (ED)? Going to the ED is not always the best option for non-urgent conditions. There are many resources on the Emergency Choices website that will give you all the information you need to make the best choice for your health. Alternatives to the ED include the Healthdirect Symptom Checker, 13 HEALTH telephone service, after hours services and your local GP.

If you’re seeking urgent medical care for minor ailments, you 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 people needing life-saving treatment and should be avoided if your 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.