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Woman & Doctor


Triage means "to sort."  It is the process when a clinical professional asks questions about why you have come to the emergency department so they can plan your care.  They prioritize patients who have the most life, limb or function threatening conditions.  Learn what to expect so that you can also evaluate if your care is being properly triaged.


Your order of arrival may not influence which patient is seen next.

  1. What staff will do: collect data called vital signs (Heart rate, temperature, blood pressure, etc.)
  2. What staff will ask: questions regarding why you came in, how long you have been ill or injured
  3. Every patient is screened for possible infectious disease exposures such as tuberculosis, Zika Virus, etc.  You may be asked about recent travel.
  4. Some basic care may be initiated at this point (e.g. ice pack, oral pain medication such as acetaminophen)
  5. You will be assigned an acuity level 1-5
    • 1=most severe (e.g. needs CPR)
    • 2=needs immediate complex care
    • 3=may have significant illness/injury may need complex care
    • 4=lower acuity, unlikely to require admission
    • 5=lowest acuity.



Ask what acuity level you were assigned and request a re-assessment of care based on what is needed for your specific condition/s.

a.  If that reassessment is 15 minutes late, ask for reassessment.

b. If your condition changes, notify the triage nurse immediately.

Depending on how busy the department is and what services you need, you may or may not receive care in a typical hospital room.

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