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Explaining how emergency room triage works

What is emergency room triage?

Triage refers to the process of sorting patients according to the severity of illness or injury.

In the emergency department, the triage nurse collects vital information from each patient:

  • Temperature

  • Heart Rate

  • Pulse Oxygenation

  • Blood Pressure

  • Breathing Rate

  • Reason for trip to the emergency room

  • Name of Regular Doctor

    Based on the triage nurse's evaluation, severely ill or injured patients are treated right away.

    The triage nurse directs other patients to a registration area.

    What happens in the registration area?

    In the registration area, patients are asked to provide their:

  • Name

  • Age

  • Address

  • Name of Health Insurance Carrier

    Patients may then be directed to the waiting area.

    Why is there sometimes a long wait in the emergency room?

    Patients in the emergency department may be asked to wait for a number of reasons:

  • Many emergency patients may arrive at once.

  • It may be necessary to wait for the results of x-rays or other tests, before beginning treatment.

    If possible, plan ahead for a wait: Bring a book to read, or toys for children to play with.

    Remember: Patients who require immediate treatment are not asked to wait.

    Patients are asked to wait only if it is safe to delay treatment.

    While waiting, a patient should inform the triage nurse if his/her condition worsens.

    Web posted on Thursday, October 6, 2005

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