Reliability and validity of triage systems in paediatric emergency care

Mirjam van Veen, Henriette A Moll
Scandinavian Journal of Trauma, Resuscitation and Emergency Medicine 2009, 17: 38

BACKGROUND: Triage in paediatric emergency care is an important tool to prioritize seriously ill children. Triage can also be used to identify patients who do not need urgent care and who can safely wait. The aim of this review was to provide an overview of the literature on reliability and validity of current triage systems in paediatric emergency care

METHODS: We performed a search in Pubmed and Cochrane on studies on reliability and validity of triage systems in children

RESULTS: The Manchester Triage System (MTS), the Emergency Severity Index (ESI), the Paediatric Canadian Triage and Acuity Score (paedCTAS) and the Australasian Triage Scale (ATS) are common used triage systems and contain specific parts for children. The reliability of the MTS is good and reliability of the ESI is moderate to good. Reliability of the paedCTAS is moderate and is poor to moderate for the ATS.The internal validity is moderate for the MTS and confirmed for the CTAS, but not studied for the most recent version of the ESI, which contains specific fever criteria for children.

CONCLUSION: The MTS and paedCTAS both seem valid to triage children in paediatric emergency care. Reliability of the MTS is good, moderate to good for the ESI and moderate for the paedCTAS. More studies are necessary to evaluate if one triage system is superior over other systems when applied in emergency care.

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