Every night and weekend, 13SICK Doctors are on the road, visiting sick and injured patients in metropolitan and regional communities around Australia. The majority of our patients are either very young (babies and young children under 4 years of age) or the elderly. More than half the calls made to 13SICK are not made by the patients themselves, but by carers. This may be worried parents of sick children, the husband or wife of a sick partner, the carer of an ageing relative, or the nurses or clinical managers in an aged care facility.
Why patients use 13SICK
Patients call us when they are suffering from an acute, episodic illness or injury that requires urgent medical attention. Particularly in winter, respiratory tract infections would be top of the list, with related illnesses such as asthma flare ups, tonsillitis, bronchitis or ear infections (particularly in babies). Also high on the list are gastro illnesses and urinary tract infections, which if left untreated can cause serious complications. Click here to read more about the top ten reasons patients call 13SICK.
When to call 13SICK
Many of our patients, when faced with illness in the after hours, when their GP is closed, are uncertain about what to do. They ask themselves, is it serious enough to call 13SICK? Should I go to the ED? Or should I wait till Monday and see my GP? It’s not always easy to tell, but generally speaking, the differences between emergency, urgent and routine illnesses and injuries are as follows:
e.g. need to see a doctor urgently (i.e. the same day)
What is urgent?
Our Medical Director Dr Umberto Russo has prepared some examples for patients about what 'urgent' means. Of course, it’s impossible to cover every eventuality, but here is a short list. 'Urgent' is when:
- you need to see a doctor straight away, and it can’t wait until your GP reopens
- you have an infant or small child and you are concerned about fever, vomiting, diarrhoea, or listlessness
- you are concerned that a member of your household needs to see a doctor, but it’s not serious enough to go to the hospital Emergency Department
- your infant or child has a temperature and an ear ache
- the patient is suffering from a migraine or an acute headache
- when treatment is needed for elderly or aged care residents who would otherwise need to be transported to hospital in an ambulance
- the patient has an acute respiratory infection such as influenza, tonsillitis, acute bronchitis or bronchiolitis
- the patient has a urinary tract infection, which left untreated can spread from the bladder to kidneys
- the patient has a bout of gastroenteritis, which may be viral or bacterial, and can include symptoms of vomiting, diarrhoea, abdominal pain and nausea
- skin infections and rashes occur, such as allergic reactions, cellulitis or other bacterial, viral or fungal infections
These are just a few of the acute, episodic conditions that our Doctors treat in the after hours. So if you need urgent medical care, call 13SICK for a bulk billed, after hours doctor home visit, and save the Emergency Department for emergencies.