ABOUT 195,000 people clogged Queensland hospital emergency departments in the last quarter for ailments as minor as splinters, cramps, blisters, sunburn, bad teeth, ingrown nails and even pimples and hiccups.
More than a third of emergency department visits were for minor ailments or injuries that could have been treated by a GP or even the local chemist.
Health Minister Yvette D'Ath released data today on the state's hospital performance for October to December last year, showing there were 587,301 emergency presentations.
She said all 4234 urgent or category 1 patients were seen by a clinician within two minutes of arriving, while 77 per cent of all cases were seen within clinically recommended times.
The median wait time for all patients to be seen was 14 minutes.
Ms D'Ath said Queensland Health would release new reporting in coming months that would provide patient safety and quality data and comparisons.
It follows complaints that departmental data is sometimes out of date, non-existent or wrong, with the Opposition arguing that the department should do better.
The Opposition says Queensland Health has used the COVID-19 pandemic as an excuse to hide data on departmental performance.
Ms D'Ath said the performance of emergency departments was "sound" given challenges over the past 12 months.
"Queenslanders should be assured that if they have the misfortune to fall seriously ill, they are in capable hands, no matter where they are," she said.
"Patients whose conditions are life-threatening are every ED's priority and that's happening in Queensland. Our most critical patients are being seen almost immediately upon arriving."
Mr D'Ath said between 30 per cent to 40 per cent of emergency visits were non-urgent complaints.
"In December alone, almost 76,000 presentations could have been treated elsewhere," she said.
"Most are legitimate health concerns however they are not matters for emergency department staff whose primary role is to save lives.
"They are being asked to treat splinters, blisters, sunburn and even acne and hiccups. People are turning up asking for medical certificates, prescription refills and immunisations.
"GPs can treat many conditions you might otherwise go to an emergency department for, such as removing stitches, sprains and strains, bites and stings, many viral and other infections, and assessment of prolonged illness or injury.
"No patient will be refused care at any of our hospitals however EDs are for seriously ill and injured patients. Less urgent presentations place unnecessary pressure on the system and, potentially, put the lives of others at risk."
Ms D'Ath said 36,421 patients underwent elective surgery in the October-December 2020 quarter.
More than 94 per cent of Category 1 patients went into theatre within 30 days of being put on the wait list. Almost 90 per cent of all patients went into surgery within the clinically recommended time.
A total of 226,623 patients were waiting for an initial appointment at a specialist outpatient clinic as at 1 January 2021.
Examples of non-urgent ED presentations in 2020-21 YTD
Attention to surgical dressings and sutures 8195
Medical certificate 1704
Repeat prescription 1654
Nail disorders/ingrown nail 559
Fractured, loose or impacted teeth 377
Muscle cramps and spasms 358
Contraceptive management 81
Insect bite 29
To view Queensland Health's October-December 2020 quarter performance data, visit performance.health.qld.gov.au/