Patient with Aboriginal Hospital Liaison Officer Jacob Nelson

Music & the brain

Emergency patient information

Being in an emergency department can be stressful so it's helpful to know what to expect should you or a loved one need to attend one.

Triage

Your treatment starts as soon as you step into the emergency department. On arrival, you'll see a specialist emergency nurse called the ‘triage nurse’. The triage nurse will assess how severe your condition is. In Australia, the triage system is used to guide hospital staff towards seeing patients according to how sick they are. This system allows patients with life-threatening problems to be seen first.

In general, the triage system has five levels:

  1. Immediate (life threatening)
  2. Emergency (could become life-threatening)
  3. Urgent (not life-threatening)
  4. Semi-urgent
  5. Non-urgent (needs treatment when time permits).

You'll be treated as soon as possible but someone who arrives in the emergency department after you may be seen before you if they need treatment more urgently.

Waiting

After seeing the triage nurse, you may be asked to wait in the waiting room. Your wait time will depend on the number of patients whose condition is more serious than yours and also how busy emergency is at the time.While the waiting area may appear quiet behind the scenes the emergency department may not be.We understand that waiting can be frustrating. We'll do our best to keep your wait to a minimum and make you comfortable.

Food and drink

Don't eat or drink before being seen as you may need tests or procedures that can't be performed if you've consumed anything. Speak to the triage nurse if you have any questions.

Further assessment and treatment

A staff member will call you into the department where they'll re-assess your condition, ask some questions, examine you and discuss your problem and any tests or treatments that might be required. Feel free to ask questions about your illness and your treatment at the time.

If your problem can be treated in the department, we'll treat it. We may also suggest treatment at home or by your local doctor. If your problem is more serious or requires special care, then we may advise that you be admitted to the hospital.

Things to tell staff

We may not be aware of your medical background so you'll be asked many questions. Sometimes this needs to be done by more than one health care worker.

To help us assess and treat you, please tell us about:

  • past health problems 
  • past drugs and treatments
  • allergies 
  • if you're pregnant or breastfeeding
  • any recent visits overseas
  • any other facts we should know.

Admission

Depending on your situtation you may need to be admitted to hospital. As your admission is unplanned, it may take time for a hospital bed to be ready. Sometimes we may need to transfer you to another hospital for your treatment. Until then, you'll be cared for in the Emergency Department.

Family and friends

Having family or friends with you can ease the stress so they are welcome. They should feel free to help with your care, however, for safety reasons only one or two visitors are allowed in emergency at a time. We may need to ask them to leave during some procedures. We also ask that you and your family and friends respect the privacy of others.

Enquiries about your condition

Enquiries are welcome and can be made by phoning the emergency department on 03 9496 5500. We recommend that one person is appointed as the main contact and they can relay information to family and friends. This helps limit the number of calls that come through so emergency staff can focus on caring for patients. 

Valuables

Ask a friend or relative to look after your valuables while you're being treated emergency. The hospital will take responsibility only for items that have been formally receipted for safekeeping in the safe.

Mobile phones

These must be turned off before going into the treatment area as they may interfere with our equipment.

Code of behaviour

A code of behaviour exists to ensure a safe and friendly environment for patients, visitors and staff. No acts of violence, swearing, threats or verbal abuse towards another patient, relative or staff member will be tolerated. An initial warning will be given, however if the behaviour continues the person will be asked to leave by staff, security or the police.

Going home

When you're discharged from emergency, you'll be given advice about follow-up care. This may include:

  • Instruction sheets
  • Drugs or scripts
  • Appointments for further tests
  • Outpatient appointments
  • A letter for your local doctor.

Make sure you have any medical certificates, Work Cover or Transport Accident Certificates, and any other information that you need before leaving the hospital.