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Visiting the Emergency Department

Emergency services are offered at the following hospitals in Prince Edward Island:

When should I go to emergency?
If you or someone in your care has an urgent medical condition or is experiencing a health crisis, go to the nearest Emergency Department or call 9-1-1.  

Some examples of an urgent medical condition include:  

  • discomfort or tightness in the chest;
  • unusual shortness of breath;
  • abdominal pain;
  • a prolonged and persistent headache or dizziness;
  • an injury that may require stitches or may involve a broken bone;
  • prolonged diarrhea or vomiting (especially a child); or
  • a fever of 38°C or 100.4°F, or higher (a baby under six months).

If you are not feeling well and cannot wait to access your family doctor, a walk-in clinic can offer non-urgent care after hours.

A telehealth nurse can help you determine if you require emergency or non-urgent care. Call 8-1-1 for free and confidential advice from a registered nurse any time of day or night, 7 days a week.  

Should I use the online wait times to determine where I should go?
If you have an urgent medical condition, always call 9-1-1 or go to the nearest emergency department.

The online emergency department wait times are meant to provide the public with general information only. Wait times are estimated and can change without warning.

What should I bring with me to emergency?
Before you go to the emergency department, you should remember to bring:

  • Your PEI Health Card or Provincial Health Card (if visiting from another province).
  • An up-to-date list of your medications, [PDF | 609 KB] including how much, how often and why you are taking each one and if you have any medication allergies.
    • Take all medications with you (in their original container) - pills, inhalers, eye drops, patches, injections, and creams.
    • Include any over-the-counter products you use, such as vitamins and herbal products.
  • A family member or friend who can provide you with support and assist you, if necessary.

How long can I expect to wait in emergency?
A triage system is used to give priority to patients who require the most urgent care. Emergency patients are seen in order of priority and not time of arrival. This may cause some delay if you do not need urgent care. Depending on the severity of your symptoms, you may be asked to sit in the waiting room. Please be assured you will be seen as quickly as possible.

If you feel your condition has changed while waiting to be seen, please let the triage nurse know.

What will happen when I arrive at the emergency department?
When you arrive at the emergency department, triage staff will assess your health condition based on your presenting symptoms. Your care will be categorized as:

  • Most urgent – having a potentially life-threatening condition and require emergency medical care;
  • Urgent – having a health condition that has the potential to become serious; or
  • Less than urgent – having a non-life-threatening condition.

All Canadian health care facilities use the same standard tool to determine the seriousness of a person’s illness and care for them appropriately.

After triage, you will be registered as a patient. A staff member will ask:

  • your name, address, telephone number;
  • for your PEI Health Card or Provincial Health Card (if visiting from another province);
  • your family doctor's name;
  • if you stayed in a hospital outside of PEI within the last year;
  • if you have a known history of an antibiotic resistant organism – MRSA (Methicillin-Resistant Staphylococcus Aureus) or VRE (Vancomycin-Resistant Enterococcus); and
  • for an emergency contact phone number.

After you are registered, a triage nurse will:

  • ask you questions about your symptoms;
  • measure your pulse, blood pressure, temperature and breathing;
  • ask you about any medications you are taking, incuding over-the-counter medications and/or supplements; and
  • ask you about any allergies you may have.

All of this information will be recorded and given to the health care team in charge of your care.

What can I expect in the treatment area?
When you are brought into the treatment area, a member of the health care team will do a more thorough assessment of your condition. Depending on the severity of your condition, the physician in charge of your care will discuss your treatment options and make any follow-up arrangements or necessary referrals. You may also be referred to a consulting physician or a specialist who will decide whether or not you need to be admitted to hospital.

What if I leave before being treated?
Please do not leave without being seen by a physician. Should you decide to leave without being treated, please let the triage nurse know.

What if I don't speak English?
Interpretation services are available if you do not speak English. This service is offered to newcomer, immigrant and francophone patients and families as clear communication is essential for effective health service.
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