What to expect

The main goal of the Emergency department at Kingston General Hospital is to help you feel better. One way we can do that is to let you know what to expect while you are here. We hope that this information helps make your visit easier.


The Emergency department is different from other organizations because we don’t run on a first-come, first-served basis. When you first arrive you will be assessed and triaged.  The word "triage" means "to sort."  Triage is a process in which a nurse will assess and prioritize you according to the urgency of your condition.  Doctors see the sickest patients first - not by order of arrival. There are often many sick people being seen and treated in the Emergency department, so we ask you to please remain patient while waiting to see the doctor. If you begin to feel worse or decide to leave, please notify the triage nurse immediately.

Sometimes we experience higher volumes of patients than expected and we are not able to see every patient within our original time frame.  We understand this can be a frustrating experience, but rest assured that we are working as hard as we can to see you in a timely manner.  

What happens when I arrive?

There are two ways that you or your loved one may arrive in the Emergency department at KGH, either by 'walk-in' or by ambulance. Below, we have outlined what you can expect in both situations.


  • Present yourself to the triage nurse with your health card ready. A quick assessment will take place to decide how quickly you will need to see a doctor. This is done using the Canadian Triage Acuity Scores (CTAS).
  • The registration clerk will update any important information in your file, including address, phone number, the name of your family physician and your the name of your emergency contact.
  • Depending on your symptoms, the nurse may begin some tests such as bloodwork right away.

Depending on the volume of patients in the Emergency department and the severity of your condition, you will be:

  • Asked to take a seat in the waiting room until you are called into the Emergency department.
  • Brought immediately into the department.


  • You will be placed on an stretcher to be assessed by Emergency department staff.
  • You will be placed on an ambulance offload stretcher in a hallway, so that your ambulance can leave the hospital to be available again in the community.
  • You may be asked to go to the waiting room to be triaged.

What happens next?

Once you are assigned a bed or area in the Emergency department, the following will take place:

  1. You will be assessed by a nurse practitioner and/or doctor
  2. A care plan will be developed
  3. Treatments and/or tests will be ordered
  4. The doctor will then determine (based on the above info):
  • if further testing is required
  • if you require assessment by a consulting service
  • if you can be discharged home

Please note, if you have been sent to see a specialist, you will follow the same process as all other patients in the Emergency Care department. Please refer to above arrival information.