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Dr. Bill Krizmanich, Hamilton Health Sciences emergency physician
October 22, 2019

Three things an ER doctor wants you to know

NOTE: ALWAYS call 9-1-1 if you think you’re having a medical emergency.

Written by: Dr. Bill Krizmanich, emergency physician, Hamilton Health Sciences

As an emergency doctor, a common concern I hear from my patients is that they’re not always sure where to turn for basic medical care. Often, the emergency department (ED) is seen as the best and quickest place to access a doctor’s expertise, but there’s usually a more convenient option. For health issues that aren’t emergencies, a family doctor or urgent care centre can offer the same level of expertise as an ED, and you’ll usually have a shorter wait.

The next time you’re feeling unwell, consider your options. There may be a better option for you than visiting the emergency department. Here are three things you should know:

1. Family doctors offer more services than you might think.

When it comes to managing your overall health, a family doctor is an excellent resource. From treatment for minor illnesses and injuries to support for mental health concerns, a family doctor can help you with a wide variety of issues. And, more and more, doctors’ offices are offering extended hours, after-hours clinics and 24-hour on-call services so that you can get the help you need, no matter the time of day.

If you’re unsure about the types of services available through your family doctor, check with their office to learn more.

2. Can’t wait to see your family doc? An urgent care centre can help.

Except in the event of emergencies, urgent care centres (UCCs) are excellent options for medical issues that need quick attention, or when your family doctor is unavailable. Many people don’t know this, but Hamilton has two urgent care centres which are open 7 days a week, 365 days a year and are staffed by emergency-trained doctors. Our UCC teams are qualified to deal with minor fractures, sprained ankles, respiratory illnesses, and even minor cuts that need stitches.

Aside from the high level of expertise you’ll receive at a UCC, you’ll probably also wait for less time than at an emergency department, where the sickest patients are always prioritized to be seen first.

3. Sometimes, the best remedy is ‘home sweet home’.

None of us like being sick. Illnesses like the cold or flu are uncomfortable and take us away from our daily activities like work, school and family time. And while it’s tough to wait out that pesky cough or runny nose, the best remedy is usually to stay home, get rest, and drink plenty of fluids.

If you’re ever unsure about what you’re feeling or where to find care, call your family doctor for advice. As always, if you think you’re having an emergency, call 9-1-1 right away.

For more information about your healthcare options in Hamilton (including family doctors, urgent care centres, and emergency departments, visit

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