When should I go to the Emergency Departement?

If you believe you need to see a doctor, remember your options:

Your options

1. If you are unsure of what to do, call Info-Santé at 8-1-1. Nurses are available 24/7 to answer questions or concerns regarding your condition.

2. You can also call your family doctor or visit the closest network clinic in Montreal. Network walk-in clinics are open 7 days a week, even during holidays. These clinics provide radiology and laboratory services for urgent cases. Please call the clinics beforehand to check their opening hours. If you don’t have a family doctor, use the Quebec Family Doctor Finder to look for one.

3. If you require immediate care, call 9-1-1 or visit the closest emergency department


The MUHC has three Emergency Departments open 24/7:

Glen Site (RVH) Montreal General Hospital Lachine Hospital

When you arrive

A triage nurse will ask you questions about your health and health concern and assign a priority according to the Canadian Triage and Acuity Scale (CTAS), which ensures that the sickest people are always seen first. As a result, you may have to wait – even several hours – to see a doctor. We understand that can be difficult, but please be patient. We are working as a team to see every patient as quickly as possible.

Depending on your situation, you may be redirected to other health centres for services. For example, the MUHC’s orthopedic department is based at the Montreal General Hospital (MGH). So if you present at the Glen site ED with a fracture, you could be transferred to the MGH or another institution within the healthcare network.

Patients are given priority according to the seriousness of their condition and not on a "first-come, first-served" basis. As a result, wait times may vary. To learn more about wait times in the ED, watch this video:

While you wait

To speed up the process at the ED, make sure you have:

  • Your Québec health card (RAMQ) ready
  • A list of all your current medications
  • A list of your medical conditions, surgical history and any allergy information
  • The names and contact info of all of the doctors who treat you

Ask the triage nurse if you can eat or drink. Some tests can only be done on an empty stomach.

If you feel worse during your wait, inform the nurses immediately. They will reassess your condition and ensure that you receive the necessary care.

When you go home

Be sure to follow any advice from the treatment team:

  • Take medications as instructed
  • Go to follow-up appointments at the MUHC, CLSC, clinic or specialist
  • Understand when you should come back to the ED

In non-urgent cases, the most rapid way to initiate treatment for a health issue is to go to your family doctor or a network clinic rather than visiting the ED. 

For more information:

Montreal Health's Network

The Santé Montréal portal is designed to assist users in locating and accessing health and social services and finding more detailed information on websites of interest throughout Montréal's health and social services network.