Emergency department triage of indigenous and non-indigenous patients in tropical Australia

M Johnston-Leek, P Sprivulis, J Stella, D Palmer
Emergency Medicine 2001, 13 (3): 333-7

OBJECTIVE: To examine the relationship between ethnicity and triage at a tertiary hospital emergency department.

METHODS: Electronic Emergency Department Information System data analysis was used to examine the relationship between ethnicity and triage allocation and process times between 1 April 1999 and 29 June 1999. Outcome measures were waiting times by triage category and admission rate by triage category.

RESULTS: There were 9614 attendances: 1949 indigenous (20.3%), 7328 non-indigenous (76.2%) and 337 (3.5%) had no ethnicity recorded. Indigenous patients were more often female (1033; 53%, CI 51-55%) than non-indigenous patients (3078; 42.0%, CI 41-43%, P < 0.001). Indigenous patients presented more often with illness (70% CI 68-72%) rather than injury (30%, CI 28-32%), compared with the non-indigenous patients, illness (64%, CI 63-65%), injury (36%, CI 35-37%, P < 0.001). Indigenous patients were more likely to be triaged to national triage scale categories 1, 2 or 3 (36%, CI 34-38%) than non-indigenous patients (32%, CI 31-33%, P = 0.011). Admission rates for indigenous patients were higher than non-indigenous patients across all urgency categories and were within national triage scale guidelines. Non-indigenous admission rates were well below national triage scale guidelines for all urgency categories. The overall admission rate for indigenous patients was double (33%, CI 31-35%) that for non-indigenous patients (16%, CI 15-17%, P < 0.001). There was no significant difference between indigenous and non-indigenous waiting times.

CONCLUSION: Indigenous patients are more likely to present with illness rather than injury and are more likely to require admission than non-indigenous patients. Indigenous patients are triaged in accordance with Australasian triage guidelines. Many non-indigenous patients should be triaged to lower urgency categories to allow resource allocation towards higher acuity indigenous and non-indigenous patients.

Full Text Links

Find Full Text Links for this Article


You are not logged in. Sign Up or Log In to join the discussion.

Trending Papers

Remove bar
Read by QxMD icon Read

Save your favorite articles in one place with a free QxMD account.


Search Tips

Use Boolean operators: AND/OR

diabetic AND foot
diabetes OR diabetic

Exclude a word using the 'minus' sign

Virchow -triad

Use Parentheses

water AND (cup OR glass)

Add an asterisk (*) at end of a word to include word stems

Neuro* will search for Neurology, Neuroscientist, Neurological, and so on

Use quotes to search for an exact phrase

"primary prevention of cancer"
(heart or cardiac or cardio*) AND arrest -"American Heart Association"