How to triage patients in the emergency department

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Triaging patients can be a complicated process, with multiple modes of assessment taking place simultaneously, and nurses need to be confident and competent in their assessment skills. This article explains the necessary preparation for triage and outlines the steps that nurses need to take when triaging a patient in the emergency department.

• Triage requires a targeted patient assessment, using both clinical judgement and triage tools to determine appropriate acuity categories.

• Different scales and algorithms are used in triage, so it is essential to clearly communicate the acuity categories assigned to patients.

• A structured approach to patient assessment can guide decision-making and identify issues.

• Various diagnostic tests can be used to facilitate the triage process, but care needs to be taken to ensure the process is not prolonged by their use.

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