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The Ottawa Hospital’s Emergency Department (ED) team works tirelessly to ensure that all patients receive access to the care they need in a timely and efficient manner.

Patients who come to the Emergency Department are triaged based on the severity of their illness or injury. Those with the most severe conditions will be seen as quickly as possible, while patients with less severe conditions may experience longer wait times.  

Health-care providers always work hard to ensure that those who need care will receive it. If you need emergency care, you should come to the Emergency Department.  

Understanding Wait Times

Here are some important things you should know:  

Emergency wait times measure the total time spent during your visit to the Emergency Department and not the amount of time you wait to see a health-care provider. Your visit is measured from your arrival until you are sent home or admitted to hospital. Depending on your health-care needs, your visit can be lengthy to ensure that you get the care you need.

Arrival in ED, Triage, History, Registration, Testing, Medical Consultations, Diagnosis, Treatment and Discharge/Admission
  • Arrival in ED
  • Triage
  • History
  • Registration
  • Testing (blood work, scans, X-rays, etc)
  • Medical Consultations
  • Diagnosis
  • Treatment
  • Discharge / Admission

Wait times will vary based on a patient’s condition, and are generally divided into two categories:

  • High Acuity – Complex conditions requiring more time for diagnosis, treatment, or hospital bed admission

These include a range of conditions from the most serious such as cardiac arrest, major trauma, or a potential threat to life or limb function, to conditions that can potentially turn into a serious problem without emergency intervention, such as asthma or moderate trauma. Some of these patients will require admission to hospital while others will not.

  • Low Acuity – Minor or uncomplicated conditions requiring less time for diagnosis, treatment, or observation

These include less serious conditions such as urinary symptoms, mild abdominal pain, a sore throat, or chronic health problems.

Last updated on: October 26th, 2023