If you need urgent attention for illness or injury, the point of entry to Latrobe Regional Hospital is the Emergency Department (ED).
It offers high level resuscitation services for people who are critically ill or injured and access to diagnostic services, specialist medical services and a mental health liaison nurse.
When you arrive at the ED you will be seen by the triage nurse who will assess your condition and determine the urgency of your illness or injury. You will be given a triage category of 1 to 5 with 1 being the most urgent of cases.
If you need immediate treatment you will be taken into a cubicle for a comprehensive assessment. From there you may be treated, sent home with instructions to see your GP or admitted to hospital.
Hospitals can be a daunting place for youngsters so there is a separate treatment area for children in the ED.
Other ED services include:
- acute care coordinator for the elderly
- Tambo Short Stay Unit
- in-hospital medical emergency response team
- decontamination unit
What will happen to me?
Our ED sees about 30,000 people a year and for many, it's their first experience of Latrobe Regional Hospital.
When you arrive at the ED you will be seen by a nurse who will carry out a clinical assessment of your condition to determine whether you should be treated immediately or after more urgent cases. This process is called triage and you will be given a category from 1 to 5. Category 1 cases are the most urgent and are treated immediately.
Reception staff will take your details, fill out the necessary forms and then ask you to take a seat.
If you are assessed by the triage nurse as needing immediate treatment you will be taken into a cubicle where a nurse and doctor will undertake a comprehensive assessment of your condition. This may require tests to help the medical team plan your treatment.
Your blood tests will be analysed by Gippsland Pathology Service located on site at the hospital.
You may need an x-ray which is done through Regional Imaging Gippsland, also located at the hospital. If your condition is very serious, the radiographers are able to bring a mobile x-ray machine to your bedside.
Following an assessment of your tests and general medical condition, you may either be treated, sent home with information and asked to contact your GP or if your condition requires further treatment, you may be admitted to hospital.
If you need to be admitted, your condition and required treatment will be assessed and other care teams will be called into action.
For example if you need to have immediate surgery, your doctor in the ED will contact the on-call surgical team at the hospital.
Often parents or guardians may come into the ED with their sick or injured children. A hospital can be a very unfamiliar and uncomfortable place for children.
Two special rooms within the ED have been designated for treating children.
The rooms include large bright paintings on the walls and a television and video to provide some distraction for the child during a clinical examination or while they wait for test results.
If the child needs to stay for long periods to allow close monitoring of their condition, sofa beds are provided for parents or carers.
Many people also arrive at the ED with a family member or loved one for support. A separate quiet area inside the ED is provided for family members if a patient is required to stay for an extended period.
Why must I wait?
Emergencies aren't predictable. People can arrive at the ED at any time and in varying numbers.
To ensure seriously ill and injured people are cared for quickly, there is an order of priority in the ED which determines who receives assistance first.
The first person you see when you come to the ED is the triage nurse who will determine how urgently you need medical attention. You'll be assigned a triage category from 1 to 5.
- Category 1: Resuscitation case requiring immediate treatment. For example, major trauma, cardiac arrest, unconsciousness and shock.
- Category 2: Emergency case requiring treatment within 10 minutes. For example, severe trauma, chest pain, severe pain, severe breathing difficulty, chemical or acid in the eyes, the swallowing of poison or drug overdose.
- Category 3: Urgent case requiring treatment within 30 minutes. For example, moderate trauma, infection, breathing difficulty, severe hypertension, high blood sugar level above 16, moderate limb injury or severe cuts.
- Category 4: Semi-urgent case requiring assessment and treatment within 1 hour of arrival in the Emergency Department. For example, the removal of foreign objects, difficulty swallowing, minor head injury, eye inflammation, minor limb injury – sprains/ possible fracture/ uncomplicated cuts.
- Category 5: Non-urgent patient condition in which treatment can be delayed for up to 2 hours from arrival. For example, minor wounds and abrasions, cuts not requiring stitching and minor symptoms of low risk conditions such as a cold.
Triage categories provide a safety mechanism to make sure that people who are most in need of help are seen quickly. This means that waiting times can be longer for people who don't have very serious conditions. Waiting times may seem long for some people, depending on how busy the Emergency Department is at the time.