Emergency Department

This information is provided to explain what you can expect during your stay in the Emergency Department. We aim to provide you with high quality care, as efficiently as possible. We understand that being in an Emergency Department is stressful. Be assured that we take the best possible care of all of our patients.

Your treatment starts as soon as you step into the Emergency Department. On arrival, you will see a specialist emergency nurse called the ‘triage nurse’. The triage nurse will assess how severe your condition is.

In Australia, the triage system is used to guide hospital staff towards seeing patients according to how sick they are. This system allows patients with life-threatening problems to be seen first.

In general, the triage system has five levels:
• Immediate (life-threatening)
• Emergency (could become life-threatening)
• Urgent (not life-threatening)
• Semi-urgent
• Non-urgent (needs treatment when time permits).

You will be treated as soon as possible, but someone who arrives in the Emergency Department after you may be seen before you if they need treatment more urgently.

GV Health Emergency Department is adapting the way in which we manage non life-threatening conditions. With the implementation of the Fast Track Service, non life-threatening injuries or illnesses will be seen in a timely and efficient manner. Please be assured that there is a team dedicated to providing increased care when your illness/injury is of a more serious nature.

After seeing the triage nurse, you may be asked to wait in the waiting room. How long you wait depends on the number of patients whose condition is more serious than yours and also how busy the department is.

We know that waiting can be frustrating. We will do our best to keep your wait to a minimum and make you comfortable. If you feel your condition is not urgent please contact your GP or the After Hours GP for an appointment, otherwise we understand your need to present to the Emergency Department.

While you wait, if you feel your condition changes, please let the Triage Nurse know.

Food and Drink
We ask that you do not eat or drink before being seen. You may need tests or procedures that require you not to eat or drink beforehand. Speak to the triage nurse if you have any questions about this matter.

Further Assessment and Treatment
A staff member will call you into the department where they will re-assess your condition, ask some questions, examine you and discuss your problem and any tests or treatments that might be required. Please feel free to ask questions about your illness and your treatment at this time.

If your problem can be treated in the department, we will treat it. We may also suggest treatment at home or by your local doctor. If your problem is more serious or requires special care, then we may advise that you be admitted to the hospital.

Things to Tell the Emergency Department Staff
As we may not be aware of your medical background, you will be asked many questions. Sometimes this needs to be done by more than one health care worker.

To help us assess and treat you, please tell us about:
• Any health problems you have had.
• All drugs and treatments that you are having.
• Allergies that you may have.
• If you are pregnant or breastfeeding.
• Any recent visits overseas.
• Any other facts we should know about.

We will advise that you will be admitted to the hospital if we believe that this is the best way to help you. As your admission is unplanned, it may take some time for a hospital bed to be ready. Sometimes we may need to transfer you to another hospital for your treatment. Until then you will be cared for in the Emergency Department.

Can My Family Be with Me?
Having family or friends with you can ease the stress, so family and friends are welcome. They should feel free to help with your care, however, for safety reasons, only one or two visitors are allowed in the Emergency Department at one time. We may ask them to leave during some procedures. We also ask that you and your family and friends respect the privacy of others.

We advise you to ask a friend or relative to look after your valuables while you are being treated in the Emergency Department. Despite efforts by the hospital, theft remains an issue. The hospital will take responsibility only for items that have been formally receipted for safekeeping in the safe.

Mobile Phones
These must be turned off before going into the treatment area, as they may interfere with our equipment.

Photos are not permitted to be taken in the Emergency Department unless consent is sought from a member of staff. Photos of other patients and staff are not to be taken.

Code of Behaviour
A Code of Behaviour exists to ensure a safe and friendly environment for patients, visitors and staff. No acts of violence, swearing, threats or verbal abuse towards another patient, relative or staff member will be allowed. An initial warning will be given, however if the behaviour continues you will be asked to leave by the staff, security or the police.

Going Home
When you are discharged from the hospital, you will be given advice about follow-up care. This may include:
• Instruction sheets
• Drugs or Prescriptions
• Appointments for further tests
• Outpatient appointments
• A letter for your local doctor

Please make sure that you have any medical certificates, WorkCover or Transport Accident Compensation certificates and any other information that you need before leaving the hospital.

Your Comments
If you or your relatives have any issues regarding your treatment, please ask the nurse or doctor looking after you.

Balancing the needs of everyone in an Emergency Department is a complex and delicate task. We aim to achieve the best care for patients. However, sometimes patients feel their needs may not have been fully met. If you have had an experience that we can learn from and improve on, we are keen to hear about it and take the chance to move forward.

Please write a letter to the Nurse Unit Manager or ring to make an appointment to discuss your concerns. We fully consider all letters or comments. You can also provide feedback online on the feedback page.

Related Information:
The GV Health Aboriginal Health Transition Officer provides support and follow up for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander (ATSI) people who present to GV Health’s Emergency Department with the aim to improve the client journey between the hospital and primary care services.

Better Health Channel
Royal Children’s Hospital Melbourne