ED or GP? A new study undertaken by the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW) has found that in 2017-18, of the eight million patients who presented to hospital Emergency Departments, almost three million could have been treated by a GP.

The AIHW report shows that between July 2017 and June 2018, Emergency Departments (EDs) had an average of 22,000 presentations per day, and only 31 per cent (%) of these patients were admitted to hospital after their ED care.

The study

Who exactly are the people who make up the eight million presentations? Why were they paying a visit to the ED?

For those aged 0-14, there were substantially more boys (56%) than girls (44%). Patients aged 4 and under accounted for about 11% of all ED presentations, but it’s the patients aged 65 and over that were substantially represented, accounting for about 22%.

However, a research paper published in the Australian Health Review found older people were over-represented in EDs, where the patient could have been treated by a GP at a clinic or at home using after-hours services.

Should you visit your GP or the ED?

Deciding whether you should go to an Emergency Department depends on the severity of your injury or illness. GPs can treat many conditions including sprains and strains, bites and stings, viruses, infections, eye injuries and prolonged illness or injury. They can also suture cuts and remove stitches.

In some cases, your local pharmacist may also be able to help. They can assist with treatment for conditions such as cold and flu, skin irritations, minor or mild allergies, headaches, diarrhoea, constipation, or sleeping problems.

If your injury or illness is life threatening, potentially life threatening or your GP has advised you, it’s best that you head straight to the ED to be assessed.