Striking a Balance - Urgent Medical Issues

An issue that occasionally arises, as it does with every community family doctor's office, is how to meet the needs of patients in respect of urgent medical issues. While not every medical issue is urgent, it's of course understandable that when a pressing matter arises, that it would be best if their own family doctor or a colleague were available at a convenient time.

In short, Magenta Health physicians individually, and as a team, work to meet the urgent medical needs of patients in a number of ways:

  • administrative staff process incoming correspondence and messages throughout the course of each business day to minimize delays;
  • Magenta Health physicians reserve a number of appointment time slots each clinic day for urgent appointments only;
  • an after-hours clinic is operated 4 weekday evenings a week, as well as Saturday morning; and
  • when individual physicians are away from the clinic on vacation, colleagues will reserve appointment time slots each business day dedicated to the patients of the physician on leave.

It's nevertheless important to recognize that Magenta Health is not a walk-in or urgent care clinic, or a hospital emergency room. In order to offer the type of care that we do, including the ability to schedule appointments in advance, minimal patient wait times, and the option of corresponding with us electronically, our physicians cannot practically be available at all times to address urgent medical issues. For example:

  • squeezing patients with urgent issues into an already fully booked schedule is one common reason for why patients are left in waiting rooms for extended periods. Minimizing patient wait times means holding firm and not making exceptions;
  • reserving more appointments for last minute bookings means there are less appointments available in advance, as well as increasing the number of appointment slots that go unused.

The clinic therefore strives to strike a balance, which means there will unfortunately be times where patients cannot be seen within a time frame that they consider adequate given the nature of their medical issue. Fortunately, as we are situated in urban Toronto, patients have a number of other health care options in such circumstances, depending on their own assessment of the urgency of their medical issue:

  • walk-in clinics;
  • urgent care clinics; and
  • hospital emergency rooms.

While relying upon such alternatives is understandably not optimal, their existence nevertheless is what facilitates other beneficial aspects of how the clinic operates, as discussed above. The challenge of course is where and how exactly to strike a balance between the various considerations; we'll continue to both do our best and to adapt to changing conditions and requirements. Until then, we do ask for your understanding and patience, and if a suitable appointment is not available, to take advantage of the other options noted above.