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The importance of triage management

Understanding the international triage scales used in an emergency unit helps patients to be aware of how treatment is prioritised to save lives

A serious medical emergency is stressful and traumatic, and it’s important to receive quality care when you need it most since this could mean the difference between life and death. Emergency units are busy places, but our units have been organised to deliver effective emergency care and each is staffed with emergency medicine trained doctors and nurses. These healthcare professionals have the skills and equipment necessary to resuscitate, diagnose and treat most emergencies. The initial assessment process is referred to as triage.

What is triage?

The word triage is derived from the French word ‘trier’, which means ‘to sort’, and in an emergency unit, it is the most effective way to bring the greatest good to the most patients. Staff use this system to prioritise treatment, based on the resources of the unit and in order of urgency – the end result is that the person with the greatest need is helped first. Triage is then delivered according to triage colour code categories.

The importance of triage management

Why use this system?

The medical triage colours are an internationally recognised system of treatment that applies to each patient entering the emergency unit. Everyone is assessed using the same criteria, irrespective of funding capability or type of emergency. The staff who carry out this assessment are experienced and well trained, and the assessment usually takes no more than one minute. It is important to follow exact triage protocol to assist the doctors and nurses to do their work effectively.

Why do waiting times differ if it’s an emergency?

It’s understandable that people become anxious in an emergency. They might be concerned that they or their family member won’t be attended to quickly enough, so hospital staff always do their best to ensure that everyone is treated with respect and dignity.

Injuries and illnesses vary in severity and it’s important to ensure that a serious condition doesn’t worsen in the emergency unit. The triage priority system is an effective tool to ensure that the most serious illnesses and injuries are attended to with the appropriate urgency. It’s also important to remember that emergency units experience peak times and, as a result, waiting times could be longer when there are many patients to see and assess. Once a doctor has seen the patient, they could recommend one of the following:

  • Discharge with medication or a referral to a specialist
  • Admission for further treatment or tests
  • Transfer to a facility where the patient can receive more appropriate treatment

Life Healthcare’s emergency units are located at 41 Life Healthcare hospitals and offer emergency medical services 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Doctors, experienced nursing staff and specialists are available to ensure every patient receives the best emergency care.

The information is shared on condition that readers will make their own determination, including seeking advice from a healthcare professional. E&OE. Life Healthcare Group Ltd does not accept any responsibility for any loss or damage suffered by the reader as a result of the information provided.