Most of us have heard the word “triage” mentioned at one time or another. Triage in an Emergency Department is a system of determining the severity of an illness and the need for either routine or emergent care.

When a patient presents to the Triage Area they are usually asked for what reason they are presenting to the Emergency Department. This is where the triage begins. Based on the answer the patient gives, the nurse will determine the severity of the illness and the level of care required to care for this individuals complaint.

At times patients will present that are so ill they will immediately by-pass the Triage Desk and be taken to an appropriate area for care. This again, depends on the nurse who is in the Triage Area.

If you present to the Emergency Department with cold symptoms or minor illnesses you will most likely be considered a lower level of care, expediency will not be of great concern, you will be seen according to your place in the waiting line.

For more severe, but not emergent illnesses the Triage Nurse will see that the patient gets to the proper area as soon as possible to prevent any deterioration of their condition.

The fully emergent patients always by-pass all others waiting to be seen.

There are times when the Emergency Department is very busy, you are not feeling well, you want to be seen. You see others going before you and sometimes this will cause you to become upset. Knowing that there is a reason for this called Triage, will help you to understand why this is occurring. You will be taken to the proper area as soon as a place becomes available since the goal of the Emergency Department is to care for everyone in a timely manner.


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