Emergency department triage: do experienced nurses agree on triage scores?

Clémence Dallaire, Julien Poitras, Karine Aubin, André Lavoie, Lynne Moore
Journal of Emergency Medicine 2012, 42 (6): 736-40

BACKGROUND: The reproducibility of the Canadian Triage & Acuity Scale (CTAS), designed and introduced in the late 1990s in all Canadian emergency departments (EDs), has been studied mostly using measures of interrater agreement. However, each of these studies shares a common limitation: the nurses had received fresh CTAS training, which is likely to have led to an overestimation of the reproducibility of CTAS.

OBJECTIVES: This study aims to assess the interrater reliability of the CTAS in current clinical practice, that is, as used by experienced ED nurses without recent certification or recertification.

METHODS: A prospective sample of 100 patients arriving by ambulance was identified and yielded a set of 100 written scenarios. Five experienced ED nurses reviewed and blindly assigned a CTAS score to each scenario. The agreement among nurses was measured using the Kappa statistic calculated with quadratic weights. Kappa values were generated for each pair of nurses and a global Kappa coefficient was calculated to measure overall agreement.

RESULTS: Overall interrater agreement was moderate, with a global Kappa of 0.44 (95% confidence interval 0.40-0.48). However, pairwise, Kappa values were heterogeneous (0.30 to 0.61, p=0.0013).

CONCLUSIONS: The moderate interrater agreement observed in this study is disappointingly low and suggests that CTAS reliability may be lower than expected, and this warrants further research. Intra-observer reliability of CTAS should be ascertained more extensively among experienced nurses, and a future evaluation should involve several institutions.

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"