Queensland Health is urging people to think before heading to an Emergency Departments (ED) for minor conditions as 32 per cent of ailments seen for can be treated by a General Practitioner (GP).

Acne Public domain image/Henryart
Acne Public domain image/Henryart

Queensland Health’s Chief Clinical Information Officer Professor Keith McNeil said, “In the first six months of this year, more than 290,000 presentations were categorized as GP-type, meaning they could or should have been treated by GPs or other clinical professionals and not in the emergency department.

“Of those, we’ve had presentations for acne, hiccups, ingrown nails, blisters, warts and sunburn – not to mention the thousands of sprains and bruises our ED nurses and physiotherapists treat.

“While they may well have required some sort of medical or other clinical attention, the emergency department is not the right place for these kinds of ailments.

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“We continue to have Queenslanders turning up for prescription refills, medical certificates and contraception management.

“The emergency department is not the place for these things – by definition, it’s there to treat emergencies.

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“Our outstanding ED clinicians work hard, saving life and limb, and ensuring people are treated in a timely manner – these non-emergency and less severe type presentations make it much harder to do that.”

Some examples of some non-urgent ED presentations during the first six months of 2018 include: acne (33), hiccups (13), warts (80), ear wax blockage (612) and contraception management (75).

Professor McNeil said there are very good alternatives to the emergency department to ensure that all Queenslanders are treated by the right person at the right time in the right place.

“If it’s life-threatening, call 000 immediately; if you’re unsure if it’s an emergency, contact 13 HEALTH for advice; but if it’s a minor ailment, visit a pharmacy or your GP,” he said.

“Pharmacies are great for helping with conditions such as cold and flu symptoms, skin conditions and irritations, minor or mild allergy symptoms, mild headaches, diarrhoea or constipation, or sleeping problems.

“GPs can treat many conditions you might otherwise go to an emergency department for, such as removing stitches, sprains and strains, bites and stings, many viral and other infections, and assessment of prolonged illness or injury.”