Referral to emergency

If any of the following are present or suspected, please refer the patient to the emergency department (via ambulance if necessary) or seek emergent medical advice if in a remote region.

  • acute tonsillitis with any of the following:
    • acute upper airway obstruction
    • dehydration
    • systemically unwell
    • signs of quinsy (unilateral tonsil displacement, trismus, peritonsillar cellulitis or abscess)

For clinical advice, please telephone the relevant metropolitan Local Health Network switchboard and ask to speak to the relevant specialty service.

Central Adelaide Local Health Network

Northern Adelaide Local Health Network

Southern Adelaide Local Health Network

Category 1 — appointment clinically indicated within 30 days

  • nil

Category 2 — appointment clinically indicated within 90 days

  • nil

Category 3 — appointment clinically indicated within 365 days

  • chronic or recurrent infection with fever/malaise, decreased oral intake and any of the following:
    • 4 or more episodes in the last 12 months
    • 6 or more episodes in the last 24 months
    • tonsil stones (tonsillitis) with halitosis
  • absent from work/university/college for a total of four weeks in a year due to tonsillitis

For information on referral forms and how to import them, please view general referral information.

Essential referral information

Completion required before first appointment to ensure patients are ready for care. Please indicate in the referral if the patient is unable to access mandatory tests or investigations as they incur a cost or are unavailable locally.

  • identifies as Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander
  • relevant social history, including identifying if you feel your patient is from a vulnerable population and/or requires a third party to receive correspondence on their behalf
  • interpreter requirements
  • symptom history and details of previous medical management including-
    • frequency number and timeframe of previous episodes
    • the degree of systemic upset
    • recent hospitalisation from tonsillitis < 12 months
    • previous medications prescribed
    • duration and outcome of the treatment prescribed
  • history of familial clotting disorders
  • use of anticoagulant medication, including new oral anticoagulants (NOACs), aspirin, warfarin, and fish oil
  • relevant physical examination findings

For obstructive sleep apnoea resulting from tonsillar hypertrophy (enlargement) refer utilising the Obstructive Sleep Apnoea - Adult CPC.

Additional information to assist triage categorisation

Throat microscopy, culture and sensitivity (MCS) when tonsillitis diagnosed.

Consumer resources