Notes on the data: Emergency Department presentations

Emergency Department presentations, 2012/13


Policy context:  Public hospital emergency departments are accessible 24 hours a day, seven days a week, to provide acute and emergency care to patients arriving either by ambulance or by other means. While some people require immediate attention for life threatening conditions or trauma, most require less urgent care. Timely access to care is a high priority for patients, health care providers and the public at large.

There are three levels of care typically provided to patients in emergency departments. These are for patients with life-threatening conditions such as accident, trauma or respiratory failure; non-emergency patients who may require 'high-level' care in other parts of the hospital; and patients who attend an emergency department who require primary health care services. Generally, this latter form of care can be accessed from a general practitioner. Although there needs to be an appropriate balance between primary and acute care, emergency departments play an important role as a safety net' in the health system, providing care to people who are unable to access services elsewhere (especially after hours) including care from general practitioners [1]. Examples include people who are homeless or transient.

An emergency department service event can be commenced by a doctor, nurse, mental health practitioner or other health professional, when investigation, care and/or treatment is provided in accordance with an established clinical pathway defined by the Emergency Department [2]. The data include both presentations at formal emergency departments (see below) and emergency occasions of service provided through other arrangements, particularly in small and more remote hospitals.


  1. Ford G. The role of the Emergency Department as a 'safety net'. Health Issues 2002;73:29-32.
  2. Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW). Australian hospital statistics 2011-12. Health services series no. 50. (Cat. no. HSE 134.) Canberra: AIHW; 2013.

Confidentiality of data

Counts of less than ten presentations have been suppressed.


Geography: Data available by Population Health Area, Local Government Area, Primary Health Network, Quintiles and Remoteness Areas

Numerator:  Presentations to Emergency Departments


Denominator:  Total population


Detail of analysis:  Indirectly age-standardised rate per 100,000 population; and/or indirectly age-standardised ratio, based on the Australian standard.


Source:  Compiled by PHIDU using data from the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare, supplied on behalf of State and Territory health departments for 2012/13; and ABS Estimated Resident Population, average of 30 June 2012 and 2013.


© PHIDU This content is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Australia licence.