Our staff treat patients on a priority basis according to the severity of each case. The Emergency Department does not function on a first come, first serve basis. Rather, the policy is that the sickest patients are seen first. This system is known as “triage “which is a dynamic process. The job of the triage nurse is to assess your child’s condition based on obtaining information from the patient and/or caregivers and on the assessment of the child/youth’s appearance, breathing, circulation and mental health status. Since the priority of patients may change and waiting times will vary, the ED staff is not able to provide the wait time.
In order to determine the priority for your child, the triage nurse uses the Canadian Paediatric Triage and Acuity Scale:
- Resuscitation: Requiring immediate emergency intervention (e.g. respiratory arrest)
- Emergent: Requiring rapid medical intervention (e.g. a newborn with fever)
- Urgent: A condition that could potentially progress to a serious illness requiring emergency intervention (e.g. moderate asthma)
- Less urgent: Requiring medical attention in the next few hours (e.g. an earache)
- Non-urgent: Children presenting with problems of a non-urgent nature. (e.g. pink eye)
Here are some ways you can help the triage nurse:
- Tell the nurse why you have brought your child to the Emergency Department
- Tell the nurse what medications your child takes, what allergies your child has and any information about your child’s previous and current medical conditions.
- During the winter, remove your child’s coat so that the nurse can properly evaluate your child
Once you have been evaluated by the nurse, you will be asked to register. You will be asked questions such as your address, name of your primary care physician and your telephone number. Please ensure that this information is accurate since the ED staff may need to contact you. You will also be asked for your health insurance card or other health insurance information.
If an exam room is not available, you will be asked to wait in the waiting room. The triage nurse may provide you with specific instructions which are important to follow. The waiting time will vary depending on multiple factors including the significance of your child’s illness or injury, the number of patients in the department and the degree of severity of the illnesses and injuries of patients in the department.
Please be aware that even though the department might appear quiet, there could be very sick children being cared for by many of the Emergency Department staff.
While waiting, if you feel that your child’s condition has worsened, please let a member of our ED team know immediately.
Exam room and tests
Your child will be evaluated in an exam room as soon as possible. If your child needs tests or needs an evaluation by another specialist, you may be asked to return to the waiting room to wait for the tests to be done or for the specialist to arrive. After the tests, you may be asked to return to the waiting room while waiting for the test results.