The Emergency Department at Delano Regional Medical Center has implemented a five-level triage system designed to streamline patient care and help the Emergency Department to rapidly identify patients in need of immediate attention. According to Surita Els, RN, Director of Emergency Services at DRMC, triage is the foundation of emergency nursing and it means to choose or sort. The goal of all triage is to get the right patient the right care at the right time.
Hospitals have relied for years on a three-level triage system to tell the difference between true emergencies and non urgent cases. Part of the problem has been that most patients coming to an emergency room fall in the middle category. This leaves nurses wondering who from this group needs to be seen first.
This new system decreases the uncertainty of who is the more serious patient and assures the patient is seen in a more timely fashion. It also improves the safety of triage and provides more accurate information on the patient’s level of illness or injury.
“The five-level Emergency Severity Index (ESI) system is very simple and straightforward to use,” says Els. “Nurses determine whether the patient has a life-threatening condition or if the problem will soon be potentially fatal. The nurse also considers vital signs and other resources the patient may need such as x-rays, lab work, MRI or CT scans, even possible consultation with a specialist. The nurse then assigns a level from 1-5, with 1 being the most severe.”
DRMC Emergency Department nurses have completed extensive training in this tried and true method which is found to be more effective and reliable.
“Our nurses are well trained at triage,” says Allan Komarek, hospital Executive Director, “and we need to use the best system possible to enhance their decisions as well as provide the best care possible for our patients.”