JOURNAL ARTICLE

Alarming signs in the Manchester triage system: a tool to identify febrile children at risk of hospitalization

Yvette van Ierland, Nienke Seiger, Mirjam van Veen, Henriëtte A Moll, Rianne Oostenbrink
Journal of Pediatrics 2013, 162 (4): 862-866.e3
23149176

OBJECTIVES: To assess whether the flowcharts and discriminators of the Manchester Triage System (MTS) can be used as indicators of alarming signs of serious febrile illness to predict the risk of hospitalization for febrile children who present at the emergency department (ED).

STUDY DESIGN: Observational study, which included 2455 children (<16 years) who came to the ED of a university hospital with fever as their main complaint (May 2007-July 2009). Alarming signs for serious febrile illness were matched with MTS flowcharts and discriminators. At triage, the percentage of alarming signs positive was calculated. The diagnostic ability of the percentage of alarming signs positive to identify children at risk of hospitalization was assessed by calculating positive and negative likelihood ratios.

RESULTS: Thirty percent of children had at least 1 alarming sign positive at triage. Twenty-three percent were hospitalized. Positive likelihood ratios of hospitalization were 5.0 (95% CI: 3.9-6.5) for children with >20% of alarming signs positive at triage and 12.0 (95% CI: 5.2-27.6) for those with >40% of alarming signs positive. Negative likelihood ratios were 0.8 (95% CI: 0.8-0.8) and 1.0 (95% CI: 0.9-1.0), respectively.

CONCLUSIONS: By alternatively using the flowcharts and discriminators of the MTS as alarming signs, rather than urgency classifiers, the MTS can function as a simple, readily available tool to identify febrile children at risk of hospitalization early in the care process. This knowledge may help to improve ED throughput times as well as admission and discharge management at pediatric EDs.

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