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South Med J. 1997 Dec;90(12):1208-12.

Prospective assessment of triage in an urban emergency department.

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  • 1Department of Emergency Medicine, Earl K. Long Medical Center, Baton Rouge, La 70805, USA.



This study examined the effectiveness of a triage system based on patient complaints, medical history, vital signs, and triage nurse impression. Measurements included recognizing patients needing admission, in correlating with disposition, and its effectiveness in all age groups.


Data were collected prospectively on all patients coming to a general emergency department (ED) of an urban teaching hospital from October 1, 1992, through November 30, 1992. Data included assigned triage acuity, disposition waiting time to physician examination, and disposition, as well as return to the ED within 2 weeks. The patients were divided into age groups: 0 to 16 years, 17 years to 25 years, 25 years to 50 years, 50 years to 65 years, and >65 years of age.


There were five patients (n = 4,993, 0.4%) who were triaged nonemergently and subsequently admitted. The sensitivity and specificity of an assigned triage 3 acuity assignment in correlating with lack of admission were 99% and 56%, respectively. Mean waiting time to physician examination was 61 +/- 14 minutes for triage 1, 129 +/- 19 for triage 2, and 182 +/- 22 for triage 3. Mean time to admission from sign-in was 246 +/- 10 minutes for triage 1 and 372 +/- 16 minutes for triage 2.


This triage system accurately correlated with disposition and determined waiting time to examination.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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