Australian triage nurses' decision-making and scope of practice

M Gerdtz, T Bucknall
Australian Journal of Advanced Nursing: a Quarterly Publication of the Royal Australian Nursing Federation 2000, 18 (1): 24-33
A survey of 172 Australian triage nurses was undertaken to describe their scope of practice, educational background and to explore the self-reported influences perceived to impact on their decision-making. The survey results reveal variability in the educational requirements for nurses to triage. Indeed, over half of the nurses who participated in the study worked in emergency departments that provided no specified unit-based triage education. Additionally, substantial inter-respondent variations in nurses' self-reported participation in a range of decisions to expedite emergency care were identified. Analysis revealed significant associations between demographic characteristics of the triage service, levels of nurse' autonomy and the nurses' self-reported participation in a number of triage decisions. The findings of this study have implications for emergency nurse education and the development and evaluation of triage practice guidelines.

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