Modern triage in the emergency department

Michael Christ, Florian Grossmann, Daniela Winter, Roland Bingisser, Elke Platz
Deutsches Ärzteblatt International 2010, 107 (50): 892-8

BACKGROUND: Because the volume of patient admissions to an emergency department (ED) cannot be precisely planned, the available resources may become overwhelmed at times ("crowding"), with resulting risks for patient safety. The aim of this study is to identify modern triage instruments and assess their validity and reliability.

METHODS: Review of selected literature retrieved by a search on the terms "emergency department" and "triage."

RESULTS: Emergency departments around the world use different triage systems to assess the severity of incoming patients' conditions and assign treatment priorities. Our study identified four such instruments: the Australasian Triage Scale (ATS), the Canadian Triage and Acuity Scale (CTAS), the Manchester Triage System (MTS), and the Emergency Severity Index (ESI). Triage instruments with 5 levels are superior to those with 3 levels in both validity and reliability (p<0.01). Good to very good reliability has been shown for the best-studied instruments, CTAS and ESI (κ-statistics: 0.7 to 0.95), while ATS and MTS have been found to be only moderately reliable (κ-statistics: 0.3 to 0.6). MTS and ESI are both available in German; of these two, only the ESI has been validated in German-speaking countries.

CONCLUSION: Five-level triage systems are valid and reliable methods for assessment of the severity of incoming patients' conditions by nursing staff in the emergency department. They should be used in German emergency departments to assign treatment priorities in a structured and dependable fashion.

Full Text Links

Find Full Text Links for this Article


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

Related 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"