The Manchester triage system: improvements for paediatric emergency care

Mirjam van Veen, Ewout W Steyerberg, Mariët Van't Klooster, Madelon Ruige, Alfred H J van Meurs, Johan van der Lei, Henriëtte A Moll
Emergency Medicine Journal: EMJ 2012, 29 (8): 654-9

OBJECTIVE: To improve the Manchester Triage System (MTS) in paediatric emergency care.

METHODS: The authors performed a prospective observational study at the emergency departments of a university and teaching hospital in The Netherlands and included children attending in 2007 and 2008. The authors developed and implemented specific age-dependent modifications for the MTS, based on patient groups where the system's performance was low. Nurses applied the modified system in 11,481 (84%) patients. The reference standard for urgency defined five levels based on a combination of vital signs at presentation, potentially life-threatening conditions, diagnostic resources, therapeutic interventions and follow-up. The reference standard for urgency was previously defined and available in 11,260/11,481 (96%) patients.

RESULTS: Compared with the original MTS specificity improved from 79% (95% CI 79% to 80%) to 87% (95% CI 86% to 87%) while sensitivity remained similar ((63%, 95% CI 59% to 66%) vs (64%, 95% CI 60% to 68%)). The diagnostic OR increased (4.1 vs 11).

CONCLUSIONS: Modifications of the MTS for paediatric emergency care resulted in an improved specificity while sensitivity remained unchanged. Further research should focus on the improvement of sensitivity.

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