An unexpected fall from a ladder, a motor vehicle accident, a sudden onset of acute chest pain…these are merely a few of the reasons people find their daily lives disrupted and seeking care in an emergency department (ED). Once in the ED, they are often among many others seeking care. The nurse must then use triage to prioritize patients.
Triage of incoming patients is a complex process that is frequently misunderstood by the layperson. The word triage comes from the French verb “trier” which means “to sort”. In essence, the triage nurse is constantly “sorting” by prioritizing and re-prioritizing the incoming ill or injured patients who require care. The nurse should base his or her decision-making on evidence, not only to ensure patients receive the care they need when they need it, but also because patients often misunderstand the triage process. Explaining that there is a process behind decisions may help ease anxiety.
In Fast Facts for the Triage Nurse: Orientation and Care Guide Second Edition, Deb Jeffries MSN-Ed, RN-BC, CEN, CPEN writes about triage acuity scales used in EDs around the world.
TRIAGE ACUITY: OVERVIEW
Emergency departments (EDs) have historically used triage scales or . . .