Objective: To review published Australian literature about ED care of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.
Method: Six databases were searched electronically for articles about ED use by Indigenous people in Australia. This strategy was complemented by manual searches of two websites, Emergency Medicine (1994–2004) and three bibliographies.
Results: Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples attend EDs about twice as often as other Australians. The waiting times of Indigenous patients are similar to, or slightly shorter than, those of non-Indigenous patients. However, more Indigenous than other patients choose to walk out before being seen, indicating possibly greater Indigenous dissatisfaction with ED care.
Conclusions: Further conclusions of the present literature review were limited by contradictory results in the few studies of reasonable quality and by general concerns about data quality, especially the poor (but slowly improving) identification of Indigenous people in routine ED data sets. Closer collaboration between ED staff and Indigenous hospital liaison staff, combined with regular monitoring of routinely-collected ED data, have the potential to improve Indigenous ED care and so contribute to improvements in Indigenous health.