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Factors Impacting Assignment to Triage Risk Level 2/3 ID’d

Last Updated: November 18, 2011.

A triage nurse's decision to assign a patient to risk level 2 or 3 of the Emergency Severity Index triage system is influenced by specific factors, according to a study published in the November issue of the Journal of Emergency Nursing.

FRIDAY, Nov. 18 (HealthDay News) -- A triage nurse's decision to assign a patient to risk level 2 or 3 of the Emergency Severity Index (ESI) triage system is influenced by specific factors, according to a study published in the November issue of the Journal of Emergency Nursing.

Roxanne Garbez, Ph.D., R.N., A.C.N.P., from the University of California in San Francisco, and colleagues sought to identify specific factors used by triage nurses to differentiate between risk level 2 and 3 patients in the ESI system. Any triage nurse who assigned a patient to either level 2 or 3 in an emergency department completed a questionnaire related to factors that influenced their patient assignment. A total of 334 nurse-patient interactions from 18 triage nurses were analyzed.

The investigators found that the factors which significantly influenced the triage nurses' assignment of the patient to level 2 were patient age, vital signs, and need for a timely intervention. The triage nurses' assignment of patients to level 3 was influenced by expected number of resources.

"Factors that are considered important by experienced triage nurses could be used as additional teaching points for nurses who have less experience in triage to improve their clinical decision making. These factors provide additional discrimination regarding which patients could potentially be in a high-risk situation or require timely intervention and therefore should be assigned to level 2 rather than level 3," the authors write.

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