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When you arrive

When you arrive at the emergency department, please go straight to the reception counter. You will be seen by a qualified nurse who assesses your condition. 
It is important to let the triage nurse know any of the following information:

  • previous health problems
  • current medications
  • if you are pregnant or breastfeeding
  • recent overseas travel
  • housing or social concerns
  • if your pain or symptoms become worse
  • if you need an interpreter.

Read more about how emergency departments work.

How long will I wait? 

Emergency departments are busy places and work on a triage system. This means that when you arrive, a medical assessment is carried out to see how serious your condition is or how ill you are. You will be given a rating from 1 to 5. 

  • Rating 1: immediately life-threatening patients: critical injury or cardiac arrest.
  • Rating 2: imminently life-threatening patients: critical illness, very severe pain, have serious chest pains, difficulty in breathing or severe fractures.
  • Rating 3: potentially life threatened patients: severe illness, bleeding heavily from cuts, have major fractures, dehydrated.
  • Rating 4: potentially serious patients: less severe symptoms or injuries, such as foreign body in the eye, sprained ankle, migraine, or earache.
  • Rating 5: less urgent patients: minor illnesses or symptoms, rashes, minor aches, and pains.

A doctor or nurse will see you as soon as they are able. At any time, they may have to step away to treat a life-threatening condition. This will not affect your care, though it may mean a longer stay with us. Your waiting time will depend on the urgency of your condition.

Sometimes the waiting room my appear empty or quiet. If you have been waiting a while, it is because inside the emergency department doctors and nurses are busy attending to very sick patients.

If you are considering leaving the emergency department for any reason, please talk with the triage nurse first.

Do you need an interpreter?

We can provide a free interpreter service for patients at our emergency departments. 

It is our policy to use fully accredited professional interpreters for all medical appointments. Family or friends are usually not able to accurately translate complex medical information.

If you would like an interpreter, please let us know as soon as you arrive.

Last updated 7 September 2022
Last reviewed 7 September 2022