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Ontario Poison Centre
Health-Care Professionals: New Priority Queue Available February 8, 2021
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Health-Care Professionals: New Priority Queue Available February 8, 2021

Based on ongoing feedback we have received about the Poison Centre call experience, we have made changes to our queueing system in order to prioritize the most urgent cases. This will take effect on February 8, 2021.

When calling the Poison Centre you will hear our standard greeting, and will then be prompted to “press 1” if your patient has arrested, or is pre-arrest from an exposure. This will place you in the priority queue. Please note that active calls cannot be interrupted but your call will be answered by the next available Poison Specialist.

The priority queue is intended for emergent patients who have had an exposure, and one of the following:

  1. Are pre-arrest
  2. Have arrested
  3. Are seizing continuously
  4. Have chemical burns >25% body surface area
  5. Potentially require immediate, unusual antidote treatment for a highly toxic substance as their clinical condition is or could become unstable

OR where there are multiple patients with the same exposure overwhelming your hospital capacity.

These criteria will be communicated while you are waiting in the priority queue. If while waiting you realize that your patient does NOT meet the criteria listed, you will be prompted to “press 0” to be returned to the regular queue.

We hope that if used properly, this will help to eliminate unnecessary delays in treating the most critical patients. Please share this information with relevant staff in your Health Care Facility. Priority queue criteria will also be available on our website,, under Patient Care Resources.

We thank you and members of your team in advance for your cooperation.

OPC Priority Queue Criteria (PDF) PDF

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