Emergency Department or GP?

Feeling unwell? Not sure if you should visit the Emergency Department (ED) or a General Practitioner (GP) clinic near you?

Your family doctor plays a critical role in caring for your health needs, and should generally be the first point of contact when you feel unwell.

Most non-emergency cases which are mild and common can be treated by visiting the family doctor instead of making a trip down to the ED.

These include:

Mild fever

See your GP if

  • your fever is 38°C and above
  • your fever lasts more than 3 days
  • you are pregnant
  • you have recently returned from overseas
  • you also have chronic conditions like asthma, cough, diabetes and pain when passing urine

Visit the ED if you experience

  • difficulty in breathing (especially in children)
  • chest pain
  • severe headache
  • coughing with blood
  • fits or seizures, e.g. your body is shaking spasmodically, or becomes rigid with arched back, clenched jaw and eyes rolling upwards
 

 

Cough and colds

See your GP if

  • have a fever of 38°C or higher
  • have a cold or flu that lasts for more than 3 days
  • have earache, chest pain or sore throat
  • have difficulty in breathing
  • are 65 and over
  • are pregnant
  • have a long-term medical condition like diabetes, heart disease, lung disease or kidney disease

Visit the ED if you experience

  • there is no need to visit the ED for coughs and colds, unless advised by your family doctor
 

 

Small cuts or bruises

See your GP if

  • there are sand particles or
  • wood splinters in the cut
  • the cut is caused by an animal or rusty object
  • you develop an infection, e.g. you also develop a fever, persistent redness and pain, swelling, or pus forming in the wound

Visit the ED if

  • the cut is deep and the bleeding
  • does not stop
  • you have been hit on the ear, and start to vomit, feel dizzy or faint
 

 

Superficial burn or scald

See your GP if

  • you develop an infection, e.g. you also develop fever, persistent redness and pain, swelling, or pus in the wound

Visit the ED you have one or more of the following

  • burns in the mouth, throat, eyes, ears or genital area
  • size of burn is large, i.e. bigger than your hand
  • burns caused by chemicals, electricity or lightning
  • third-degree burns, i.e. burnt skin is white, leathery or charred
 

 

Localised rash or insect bite

See your GP if

  • there are signs of infection e.g. increasing redness, pain, swelling, fever
  • the sting fills with pus
  • you experience flu-like symptoms

Visit the ED if you have

  • been stung three or more times
  • been stung in the mouth
  • painful itching or swelling on other parts of your body, e.g. mouth or face
  • symptoms of systemic reaction like:
    • difficulty in breathing
    • nausea, vomiting or diarrhoea
    • fast heart rate
    • giddiness
    • confusion or agitation
    • pale skin
 

 

Minor nosebleed

See your GP if

  • your nosebleed recurs for no apparent reason

Visit the ED if you have

  • nosebleed that does not stop after 20 minutes
  • nosebleed is caused by injury to the nose, like being hit in the face by a fist or object
  • you are experiencing heart failure
 

 

Chronic aches and pains

See your GP if

  • you also experience other symptoms such as fatigue, weakness, chills, loss of weight, loss of appetite, fever or rash

Visit the ED if you have

  • there is no need to visit the ED for chronic aches and pains, unless advised by your family doctor
 

 

Mild diarrhoea and vomiting

See your GP if

  • your vomiting continues for more than a few hours
  • you have stomach pains
  • you have diarrhoea

Visit the ED if you

  • have severe fever, stomach pains or headache 
  • have signs of dehydration, e.g. you feel very thirsty, giddy or have a dry mouth
  • are vomiting after a head injury
 

 


Click here for the list of preferred GP clinics 

However, if you are experiencing sudden, urgent or unexpected occurrences that require immediate medical attention, please visit the Emergency Department (ED) as soon as possible.  

These conditions include:

  • Loss of consciousness
  • Broken bone or dislocation
  • Traffic or worksite accident
  • Drug overdose or poisoning
  • Choking or difficulty in breathing
  • Deep cuts with uncontrollable bleeding
  • Sudden abdominal pains that do not subside
  • Sudden, severe chest pains or breathlessness
  • Head injuries with bleeding, drowsiness or vomiting