Nurses have defended proposed industrial action across Adelaide's major hospitals, which they say are in crisis from overcrowding.
The Australian Nursing and Midwifery Federation plans to limit elective surgery from Monday with doctors and ambulance officers also taking their own action.
Federation state secretary Elizabeth Dabars says nurses are doing no more and no less than SA Health already condones in crisis circumstances.
"In fact, it is a course of action often taken by the department themselves to prioritise urgent and emergency care needs in times of excessive demand," Ms Dabars said on Friday.
Her comments came after the state government asked the SA Employment Tribunal to intervene amid claims patient safety could be put at risk.
Ms Dabars said claims patient safety could be compromised were unfounded.
"We are disappointed that the minister and department have chosen this course of action and refute the suggestions that our actions will do anything other than ensure the safe patient care of those waiting in our emergency departments," she said.
But Health Minister Stephen Wade said it was clear the action would be a threat to patient safety and called on nurses to withdraw their threats.
"It's very important that we put patients first," he said.
"We will not stand by and see patient safety threatened by industrial action."
The minister said the government continued to work through a series of strategies to ease hospital overcrowding including moving 46 patients to country hospitals and 20 to private hospitals.
He said moving patients to the repatriation hospital, which the previous Labor government closed, also remained a medium-term strategy.