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.

  • suspected strangulated/incarcerated or obstruction of an organ and/or fatty tissue

Please contact the on-call registrar to discuss your concerns prior to referral.

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

Regional Health Networks

Barossa Hills Fleurieu Local Health Network

Eyre and Far North Local Health Network

Flinders and Upper North Local Health Network

Limestone Coast Local Health Network

Riverland Mallee Coorong Local Health Network

Yorke and Northern Local Health Network


  • asymptomatic hernia with no concerning features

Triage categories

Category 1 (appointment clinically indicated within 30 days)

  • suspected intermittent bowel obstruction of incarcerated hernia
  • symptomatic femoral hernia

Category 2 (appointment clinically indicated within 90 days)

  • episode of irreducibility
  • symptomatic hernia with any of the following
    • redness/discolouration at site
    • impacting on acts of daily living (ADLs)/employment
    • presence of nausea/vomiting/constipation

Category 3 (appointment clinically indicated within 365 days)

  • symptomatic hernia without concerning features

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 required
  • age
  • past medical/surgical history
  • medications and dosages
  • allergies and sensitivities
  • height, weight and body mass index (BMI)
  • smoking, alcohol and other drug use
  • onset, duration, and progression of symptoms
  • presenting symptoms
    • duration and frequency of symptoms
    • description of symptoms, including pain frequency/duration/triggers, presence of dragging sensation, redness/discolouration at site, nausea and/or vomiting and/or constipation
    • social and emotional impact for example, acts of daily living/employment
    • previous management trialled and outcomes, including trusses, corsets or binders
    • reports/summaries from allied health involvement
  • physical examination findings
    • visible bulge
    • soft/firm on palpation
    • reducible/irreducible hernia, including frequency of episodes
  • relevant diagnostic/imaging reports, including location of company and accession number
  • ultrasounds are ineffective for evaluating hernias; a more precise and dependable assessment can be achieved by a thorough physical examination at time of referral

Clinical management advice

Allied health (physiotherapy) involvement may assist in conservative management of hernias in the community, supportive therapy options such as trusses, corsets, or binders may be recommended to alleviate symptoms.

It is important to advise the patient to return for assessment if their symptoms deteriorate. Ultrasounds are ineffective for evaluating hernias; a more precise and dependable assessment can be achieved by a thorough physical examination at time of referral.

Clinical resources

Consumer resources