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J Emerg Nurs. 2013 Nov;39(6):534-8. doi: 10.1016/j.jen.2010.10.003. Epub 2011 Feb 22.

Acuity and anxiety from the patient's perspective in the emergency department.

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Malmö, Sweden. Electronic address:



Knowledge of a patient's perception of her medical needs and urgency may make it possible for emergency nurses to communicate the triage decision and make the patient understand the assessment and triage category. The aim of this study was to compare the patients' own assessments of their acuity to the triage nurse's assessment, as well as describe patient satisfaction and levels of anxiety.


A prospective, cross-sectional survey design was used. The sample consisted of 72 patients, 54% of whom were women. Median age was 55.9 years.


Agreement between the nurse and patient regarding acuity and triage category was rare. This may have consequences for patient safety, because patients may seek care at an inappropriate level, in both directions. Communication between the nurse and patient during the waiting time in the emergency department is very important, both for patient satisfaction and reduction of anxiety levels.


Helping the patient understand the severity of his medical condition and providing information about the triage category and its implications for care in the emergency department should be a focus in communication between the triage nurse and patient. It may well be that the patient's anxiety level is reduced and satisfaction increased if the triage code is known and understood by the patient.


Anxiety; Patient satisfaction; Triage

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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