Emergency entryEmergency entryEmergency entrance

Patients & visitors

Emergency care

Emergency care

Austin Health Emergency is open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Call 000 in an emergency.

Before you come to Emergency

Before you come to Emergency, consider how urgently you need to see a doctor. 

Sometimes, accessing treatment in Emergency is not always the best option.

Find out more about emergency care options.

What to bring

Bring the following items with you, where relevant:

  • Any letters from your GP, to assist in determining your health status and urgency category at the time of your arrival
  • Medicare card
  • Health Care and/or concession card (if you have one)
  • Adverse drug alert card (if you have one)
  • Medicines you need to take while you are here
  • Relevant x-ray films, scans, ultrasounds or any other test results or reports
  • Private health insurance card (if you want to use it)
  • Glasses, hearing aid, walking frame

What to expect when you come to Emergency

We use a triage system to ensure that we always treat the sickest patients first. This means you may wait longer than someone who arrives after you.

On arrival

When you arrive in Emergency, you will be greeted by a clerk or nurse. The role of the nurse is to assess your medical condition and determine the urgency for a doctor's assessment and treatment. You will be allocated a triage category (urgency level) and then asked to wait to see a doctor.

You must not eat or drink anything from the time you arrive in Emergency until you are advised otherwise by your doctor or nurse.


You will be registered by the clerk at the reception desk. The details they collect are used to identify you. They will place an identification wristband on your wrist.

You will also be asked for your Medicare card number and whether you have private health insurance. Overseas patients may have to pay for medical care provided. Australia's Medicare system has reciprocal medical care agreements with Finland, Ireland, Italy, Malta, The Netherlands, New Zealand and the United Kingdom. 

Find out more about paying for services.

Waiting for treatment

After you have been seen by the nurse you will need to wait to be seen by a doctor. You may be asked to take a seat in the waiting room or you may be placed on a trolley and taken into one of the clinical areas. Blood tests, x-rays and scans may be started while you're waiting.

We treat the sickest patients first. This means you may wait longer than someone who arrives after you. Patients on trolleys or who arrive by ambulance are not necessarily seen first.

Whilst in the waiting room, please direct all questions to the triage nurse. If you have been taken through to one of the clinical areas, please direct all questions to the nurse who is looking after you.

Let the nurse know if your condition changes while you're waiting.


We have seven different areas for treatment. You'll be treated in the most appropriate area by one or several members of our team.

As soon as possible, a clinician (such as a doctor, nurse practitioner or physiotherapist) will assess you. You will be asked many questions including those that other clinicians have already asked. It's important to tell the clinician:

  • Your reason for coming to the hospital
  • Current medical problems
  • Past medical problems and operations
  • Current medications
  • Any allergies to medications

Be honest in answering any questions as the information will assist the clinician to make the correct assessment and take the most appropriate next steps to treat you.

Remember that any information you give is strictly confidential and will not be passed on to any other person in accordance with Australia's privacy laws.


Once the clinician has taken your history, you may require further tests. If you are unsure why a test is being done, ask the doctor or nurse caring for you. Tests may include blood tests, x-rays or CT scans.

There may be a waiting period to have some tests depending on the number of people who need the same test.

Once the results of the tests are available, the doctor will inform you of the result and explain your ongoing management plan. If you have any questions, ask the doctor or nurse caring for you.

Most people are able to go home after treatment. Some people may be admitted to hospital if further treatment is needed.

Common questions people ask

Will I have to pay for services?

Austin Health is part of Australia's public healthcare system and offers hospital care to any Australian resident under Medicare arrangements. In some circumstances, patients may need to pay.

Find out more about paying for services.

Can I eat and drink while I wait?

No, you shouldn't eat or drink in Emergency until you've seen a doctor. You may need to have tests that need to be taken on an empty stomach or you may need an operation.

Can I find out the condition of my loved one?

Enquiries are welcome and can be made by calling Emergency on 03 9496 5500.

Please appoint one person to be the main contact and they can relay information to family and friends. This helps limit the number of calls, so our staff can focus on caring for patients.

Are there other services I can use instead of Emergency?

Yes. Depending on the circumstances, accessing time-critical treatment in an Emergency Department is not always the best choice.

Find out more about emergency care options.

Will you treat me if I am an overseas resident?

Yes, but conditions apply and you may need to pay for treatment.

Find out more about paying for services

Can I be treated as a private patient?

If you have private health insurance, you may wish to be treated in a private hospital instead of Austin Health.

Discuss this option with the treating nurse or doctor and consult your private health fund for more information.

If you elect to be transferred from Austin Health to a private hospital, an ambulance can be arranged but may be at your expense.

What we expect of you

Violence and aggression is not tolerated

Violence, swearing, verbal or physical threats or abuse towards other people and staff is not tolerated.

We encourage all visitors to Emergency to report any concerning behaviours to our staff immediately, so that we can continue to provide care in a safe environment.

Help us to help you

We may not be aware of your full medical background so you'll be asked many questions. Sometimes, you are asked the same question more than once or by more than one person. This is normal.

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

  • Past health problems
  • Past drugs and treatments
  • Allergies
  • If you're pregnant or breastfeeding
  • Any recent visits overseas
  • Any other facts you think we should know