Emergency department presentations following tropical cyclone Yasi

Aitken, Peter, Franklin, Richard Charles, Lawlor, Jenine, Mitchell, Rob, Watt, Kerrianne, Furyk, Jeremy, Small, Niall, Lovegrove, Leone, and Leggat, Peter (2015) Emergency department presentations following tropical cyclone Yasi. PLoS ONE, 10 (6). e0131196. pp. 1-12.

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Emergency departments see an increase in cases during cyclones. The aim of this study is to describe patient presentations to the Emergency Department (ED) of a tertiary level hospital (Townsville) following a tropical cyclone (Yasi). Specific areas of focus include changes in: patient demographics (age and gender), triage categories, and classification of diseases.


Data were extracted from the Townsville Hospitals ED information system (EDIS) for three periods in 2009, 2010 and 2011 to coincide with formation of Cyclone Yasi (31 January 2011) to six days after Yasi crossed the coast line (8 February 2012). The analysis explored the changes in ICD10-AM 4-character classification and presented at the Chapter level.


There was a marked increase in the number of patients attending the ED during Yasi, particularly those aged over 65 years with a maximum daily attendance of 372 patients on 4 Feb 2011. The most marked increases were in: Triage categories - 4 and 5; and ICD categories - diseases of the skin and subcutaneous tissue (L00-L99), and factors influencing health care status (Z00-Z99). The most common diagnostic presentation across all years was injury (S00-T98).


There was an increase in presentations to the ED of TTH, which peaked in the first 24 – 48 hours following the cyclone and returned to normal over a five-day period. The changes in presentations were mostly an amplification of normal attendance patterns with some altered areas of activity. Injury patterns are similar to overseas experience.

Item ID: 39334
Item Type: Article (Research - C1)
ISSN: 1932-6203
Additional Information:

© 2015 Aitken et al. This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited

Funders: Queensland Government
Date Deposited: 02 Jul 2015 05:38
FoR Codes: 11 MEDICAL AND HEALTH SCIENCES > 1117 Public Health and Health Services > 111706 Epidemiology @ 50%
11 MEDICAL AND HEALTH SCIENCES > 1117 Public Health and Health Services > 111711 Health Information Systems (incl Surveillance) @ 50%
SEO Codes: 92 HEALTH > 9204 Public Health (excl. Specific Population Health) > 920407 Health Protection and/or Disaster Response @ 100%
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