Triage wait times at Emergency

I’ve always assumed that when you go to the Emergency Department of a hospital, you will be assessed immediately by a triage nurse. If your condition is life-threatening – you have a bullet wound in your chest, or your unconscious – you’ll be seen by medical staff immediately. If your condition can wait, you’ll be told to line up like everybody else.

A few months back, we took our daughter in to Emergency. Here’s what happened (from Charlene):

Here’s the part that just baffles me. When we arrived at the ER there were NO nurses in at the reception triage to assess incoming patients – None. After waiting patiently for two or three minutes I requested attention from a registration staff person. They paged a nurse. No response. We had obviously arrived during a shift change. It was a full ten minutes before staff arrived to triage Christina and another individual who had arrived before we did. Have I missed an annoucement? When did “back in 10 minutes” become acceptable intake practice at an Ontario hospital Emergency Department?

I contacted the hospital and was amazed to get this response:

I have spoken with the Patient Care Manager of the Emergency Department. She has informed me, with regards to the triage nurse response times, that seeing a patient within 10 minutes of arrival to the Emergency Department fits within our hospital standard and is also reflective of the Ministry of Health standard.

So if you walk in and you’re having a heart attack, or you have a child who’s not breathing, and there’s nobody there to help you for ten minutes, that is within hospital standards.

Amazing. I think I’ll be following up on this.

Darryl Dash

Darryl Dash

I'm a grateful husband, father, oupa, and pastor of Grace Fellowship Church Don Mills. I love learning, writing, and encouraging. I'm on a lifelong quest to become a humble, gracious old man.
Toronto, Canada