Demonstrating the impact of Australian Rules Football injuries in the Emergency Department: A clinical data audit

Mr Graham Stephen1, Ms Lise Duggan1

1Austin Health, Heidelberg, Australia

Australian Rules Football (AFL) injuries represent a significant portion of all sport injuries presenting to the Emergency Department (ED). The number of presentations continues to rise with the emergence of more women participating in AFL.

The retrospective data audit sought to quantify the financial impact of AFL injuries on the ED concerning diagnostic investigations, procedures, inpatient admissions and specialty referral. The audit was conducted during 2018 over the AFL season extending from March to September.

Females with AFL injuries constituted nearly a third of all AFL related presentations in the audit period. The most utilised imaging modality was x-ray and reduction of finger dislocation the most commonly performed procedure. Most patients were discharged home from the ED with those presenting with a head injury the most likely to require inpatient admission. The overall cost burden to the ED was significant with the management of AFL related injuries costing in excess of $??,??? (figure still being calculated).

It is anticipated that the audit will again be conducted during the 2019 AFL season. Little is known about the increasing trend of females participating in AFL and the subsequent injury burden associated with this. The cost implications of AFL injuries presenting to EDs is high. Therefore, future clinical audits may inform the provision of additional funding to support an AFL injury clinic and improve the understanding of female injury burden in the AFL.


Graham has worked as a Nurse Practitioner at Austin Health’s Emergency Department for several years. The NP team work exclusively in the Fast Track area of ED seeing patients with a broad range of presentations Graham holds a keen interest in the assessment and management of sports injuries, particularly AFL related injuries.