What do the numbers show?

Queensland Health has urged people to think twice before visiting an emergency department after 290,000 presentations between January and June this year could have been treated by GPs.

Queensland Health’s Chief Clinical Information Officer, Professor Keith McNeil said of the approximate 155,000 emergency department presentations across public hospitals in Queensland each month, 32 per cent were ailments a GP or other clinical professional could have treated.

“Queensland emergency departments are seeing more and more patients needing care for urgent and complex conditions, and people seeking care for minor ailments put added pressure on our hardworking ED staff,” Professor McNeil said.

Logan Hospital emergency consultant, Dr Scott Mackenzie said although no patient seeking medical assistance is ever turned away, those with minor ailments may be putting other ill patients at risk.

“These sorts of presentations see our staff attending to people that could be seen by other medical professions,” he said.

“Keep our emergency departments for those who need it most.”

What types of non-urgent cases are patients presenting?

In the first six months of this year, emergency departments across Queensland have seen non-urgent presentations including:

Examples of non-urgent ED presentations between 1 January 2018 and 30 June 2018

Acne – 33

Blister – 4

Hiccups – 13

Ingrown nail – 43

Insect bite – 18

Medical certificate – 1,354

Repeat prescription – 1,505

Contraceptive management – 75

Bruise – 1,646

Splinter – 2,098

Urinary tract infection – 3,846

Nose bleed – 530

Warts – 80

Sunburn – 133

Cough – 1,110

Muscle cramp or spasm – 310

Nappy rash – 114

Heartburn – 1

Ear wax blockage – 612

Nightmares – 2

Sore throat – 697

Splinter – 2,098

Source: Queensland Health

Professor McNeil said there were plenty of good alternatives to emergency departments for medical attention.

“If it’s life-threatening, call 000 immediately; if you’re unsure if it’s an emergency, contact 13 HEALTH for advice; but if it’s a minor ailment, visit a pharmacy or your GP,” he said.

“GPs can treat many conditions you might otherwise go to an emergency department for, such as removing stitches, sprains and strains, bites and stings, many viral and other infections, and assessment of prolonged illness or injury.”

House Call Doctor also provides after-hours medical help for non life-threatening conditions, to help ease the pressure faced by hospital emergency departments.