Urgency Related Groups

The Urgency Related Groups (URG) classification was implemented as an interim measure by the Independent Health and Aged Care Pricing Authority (IHACPA) to classify emergency department episodes from 1 July 2012. It was replaced by the Australian Emergency Care Classification (AECC) in 2021.

In 2013, IHACPA commissioned the Investigative review of classification systems for emergency care to assess the suitability of the URG’s ongoing use. The Investigative review concluded that URGs are not suitable for use on an ongoing basis. This was mainly due to the reliance on triage as a classification variable.

The outcome of the investigative review led to the staged development of the AECC, which better reflects a patient’s reason for seeking emergency care and better predicts variation in patient complexity. 

Development of the Urgency Related Groups classification

The URG and Urgency Disposition Groups (UDG) classification systems were first developed in 1992 by Dr George Jelinek. The development of URGs and UDGs were based on studies of patients treated in emergency departments in Western Australian hospitals. URGs are an extension of UDGs and utilise additional variables, resulting in 73 URGs being formed at the time.

In February 2012, IHACPA and Emergency Care Advisory Working Group (ECAWG) refined the URG classification which resulted in the creation of Version 1.2. In October 2012, ECAWG undertook a subsequent refinement of Version 1.2 and added new categories for transfer, planned return visit and died in emergency presentations. This resulted in the creation of Version 1.3 of the URG classification. 

In 2013, IHACPA undertook a review to improve the clinical meaningfulness of the URG classification and its ability to explain differences in costs, as well as the mapping of diagnosis codes to major diagnostic blocks. This resulted in the creation of URG Version 1.4 with 114 URG groups. 

Urgency Related Groups — specifications and groupers

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Any enquiries related to URG should be directed to enquiries.ihacpa@ihacpa.gov.au.

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