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Emergency Department

Emergency Department (ED) physicians and staff are dedicated to providing exceptional emergency care for people with urgent medical conditions.

A triage system is in place in the Emergency Department, where the sickest and most vulnerable patients are cared for first.

Triage means "to sort." It is the way we decide which patients are treated first. A national triage scale with 5 levels (ranging from non-urgent to resuscitation) is used to rate patients' symptoms. 

Here are some examples of the types of symptoms that are treated, in order of urgency:

Levels 1-5

When to go to the Emergency Department

If you or someone in your care has an urgent medical condition or is experiencing a health crisis, go to the nearest ED or call 911.  

Examples of an urgent/critical medical condition are: 

  • Discomfort or tightness in the chest
  • Unusual shortness of breath
  • Abdominal pain
  • A prolonged and persistent headache or dizziness
  • An injury that may require stitches or may involve a broken bone
  • Prolonged diarrhea or vomiting (especially a child)

If you are experiencing mild or moderate Coronavirus (COVID-19)  symptoms, please do NOT visit an Emergency Department. Call Tele-Care 811.

Individuals should not come to the Emergency Department for a COVID-19 test or to obtain their results. COVID-19 Assessment Centres provide COVID-19 tests. 

Worst Comes First

People may arrive after you but be seen first because their health is at greater risk. The triage system allows us to treat all patients in a safe time frame for their conditions. 

Triage nursing staff receive specialized education to assess patients correctly and patients' charts are reviewed on a regular basis to ensure correct triage levels are being assigned.

At an Emergency Department, we cannot predict how long you will wait. We never know when there may be an emergency, such as an accident or life-threatening illness. Unfortunately, that may mean a longer wait for our non-urgent patients. 

Download this video here.

To learn about ALL your health care options for unexpected medical conditions, visit sowhywait.ca.

Department of Emergency Medicine - Clinical Department Heads

Facilities and programs offering this service: