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Mental Health in the Emergency Department

Everyone has the right to timely access to appropriate mental health care. Working in emergency departments across Australia and Aotearoa New Zealand, our members report, and the data confirms, that patients presenting in crisis to emergency departments routinely experience unacceptably long waits for access to mental health care.

Patient Safety in the Emergency Department

Emergency departments are busy, noisy and chaotic environments, making diagnostic, procedural and medication errors are an ever present risk in patient care.

Reducing Alcohol and Drug Harm in the ED

Emergency departments (EDs) in Australasia are at the forefront of dealing with the harmful effects of alcohol and illicit drug use. Alcohol and drug related presentations to EDs have a significant effect on other patients, workforce morale, and to the functioning of the ED. We seek to play an active role in reducing the harm this causes.

Climate Change and Emergency Medicine

EDs play an important role in supporting public health initiatives while also advocating for strategies to promote the health of patients. ACEM is clear that emergency departments need to be prepared for and respond to disasters, including those caused by climate change. We seek to support the capacity of EDs and the broader community.

Access Block

Access block is the single most serious issue facing emergency departments in Australia and Aotearoa New Zealand.


The Australasian Triage Scale (ATS) is a clinical tool used to establish the maximum waiting time for medical assessment and treatment of a patient.

We do this by:

  • Regularly revising and upgrading our training programs
  • Developing and maintaining standards for emergency medical care
  • Leading the policy debate in areas relating to emergency medicine (EM)
  • Providing trusted EM advice and research.

Taking action

We have also developed the following tools, approaches and solutions to address issues experienced in EM and Emergency Departments (EDs) today, including:

  • A range of research and advocacy work to address access block (over-crowding in hospitals)
  • The Australasian Triage Scale (ATS) - ACEM pioneered development of the ATS in the 1990s and have been the driving force behind its standardisation, implementation and ongoing revision.
  • Developed by ACEM and the APSF the Emergency Medicine Events Register (EMER), is an adverse event and confidential near-miss reporting system for both patients and physicians.