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Arch Emerg Med. 1993 Sep;10(3):220-8.

Nurse triage in theory and in practice.

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Department of Public Health Medicine, University of Sheffield Medical School.


'Nurse Triage' refers to the formal process of early assessment of patients attending an accident and emergency (A&E) department by a trained nurse, to ensure that they receive appropriate attention, in a suitable location, with the requisite degree of urgency. The benefits claimed for nurse triage include better patient outcomes, through clinical management reaching those in greatest need of it first. A recent study of nurse triage in a British A&E department failed to demonstrate the benefits claimed: patients undergoing triage were delayed, especially those in the most urgent groups. No differences were noted between the two study groups in levels of satisfaction with the A&E process. The results brought forth criticism from all quarters. In this paper the points made by the critics are considered, and an attempt to answer them is made.

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