When should I go to an emergency department rather than waiting to see a GP?

Recently, people have turned to using the emergency department of hospitals as an alternative to attending a GP clinic. As a result, emergency departments (EDs) are becoming overcrowded by people with minor injuries or illnesses. We all know that the ED is intended for use only in an emergency situation, but where do we draw the line? What’s classified as an emergency?

If you’re not sure whether your situation is an emergency, one option is to call healthdirect Australia on 1800 022 222. Healthdirect Australia is a 24 hour helpline run by qualified staff who will be able to advise what to do and where to go. Healthdirect Australia also has a website with information and advice on specific symptoms and conditions that can be useful in deciding what to do and where to go if you aren’t sure. However, if you are sure that your situation is an emergency, you should immediately call 000 and ask for an ambulance. The paramedics will assess your condition and decide whether you need to be taken to the nearest ED or whether they are able to treat you on the spot.

You can also ask your GP next time you visit them when you should go to the ED. Your GP knows your history and will be able to suggest symptoms or situations that may be considered an emergency for you.

HealthEngine can help you find and book an available appointment with a GP near you. To get started, use our search tool below or download our app from https://healthengine.com.au/app/.

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