Patient with Aboriginal Hospital Liaison Officer Jacob Nelson

Patients & Visitors

Emergency patient information

Being in an emergency department can be stressful so it is helpful to know what to expect should you ever find yourself in the Austin Hospital's ED as a patient or as a relative or friend of a patient.

The information below describes what will occur from arrival right through to departure at the Emergency Department.


Your treatment starts as soon as you step into the Emergency Department. On arrival, you will 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 will 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.


After seeing the triage nurse, you may be asked to wait in the waiting room. How long you wait depends on the number of patients whose condition is more serious than your's and also how busy the department is.

Just because the waiting area appears quiet, this does not mean the Emergency Department is quiet.

We know that waiting can be frustrating. We will do our best to keep your wait to a minimum and make you comfortable.

While you wait, if you feel your condition changes, please let the triage nurse know.

Food and drink

We ask that you do not eat or drink before being seen. You may need tests or procedures that require you not to eat or drink beforehand. Speak to the triage nurse if you have any questions about this.

Further assessment and treatment

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

If your problem can be treated in the department, we will 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 the emergency department staff

As we may not be aware of your medical background, you will 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:

  •      Any health problems you have had
  •      All drugs and treatments that they are having
  •      Allergies that you have
  •      If you are pregnant or breastfeeding
  •      Any recent visits overseas
  •      Any other facts we should know about.


We will advise that you be admitted to the hospital if we believe that this is the best way to help you. As your admission is unplanned, it may take some time for a hospital bed to be ready. Sometimes we may need to transfer you to another hospital for your treatment. Until then, you will be cared for in the Emergency Department.

Can my family be with me?

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


We advise you to ask a friend or relative to look after your valuables while you are being treated in the Emergency Department. Despite efforts by the hospital, theft remains an issue. The hospital will take responsibility only for items that have been formally receipted for safekeeping in the safe.

Telephone enquiries

Enquiries about patients are welcome and can be made by phoning the hospital on 9496 5500. Please limit the calls as the department is busy, and enquiries will take staff away from caring for patients. One person should make the call and then inform other family members and friends.

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 allowed. An initial warning will be given, however if the behaviour carries on, you will be asked to leave by staff, security or the police.

Going home

When you are discharged from the hospital, you will 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.

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