Although triage is typically the emergency department position that most nurses dread, it is a vital role that ensures that the sickest patients get the fastest care. If you are ready to take your skills to the next level, study these tips for rapid and accurate triage assessments.

Use a Proven Triage Assessment Tool

Especially as a new nurse, you should rely on proven tools to help you do your job efficiently. For example, your facility may use the Emergency Severity Index to determine patient acuity. However, you can still make this tool your own by focusing mostly on questions that point to patient priority.

Look at Patient Presentation As Much As or More Than Vital Signs

Vital signs do not present the entire picture of your patient. Be sure to look past your digital monitors to the patient himself. Listen to what your patient says, how his skin appears and any obvious signs of pain or bleeding, which may or may not back up the vital signs.

Watch for Pain and Hemodynamic Compromise

Two of the most important questions you must ask yourself with every patient who comes into the triage room is whether he is having pain or whether he has signs of hemodynamic compromise. In particular, focus on chest pain or abdominal pain.

Focus on Triage Skill over Patient Satisfaction

Most hospitals today are forced to view constant patient satisfaction scores and surveys, and management often seems to focus more on these numbers than on the quality of care they are providing. While patients should be treated well, it is more important to focus less on these metrics and more on actual triage skills.

While patient satisfaction is certainly important in ensuring that your hospital thrives in your community, it should not be the highest indicator in your triage process. Focus on what you have learned in nursing school and from follow-up certification programs as well as on your gut instincts to place patients at the correct triage levels. While quick bedding and getting patients in front of doctors quickly are vital to saving lives and creating happy patients, it is most important to provide patients with the correct level and type of care. This is the detail that is most often missed in today’s triage departments.

If you are struggling to recognize life-threatening health indicators and place your ER patients in the correct waiting area or bed, we encourage you to attend a certification class that can boost your confidence at work and your nursing skills as a whole. Our Certified Emergency Nursing Review Test Prep Course provides you with lectures, videos and practice tests that will help you brush up on your knowledge and your skills before taking the final examination. Among the many topics discussed in this course is primary and secondary assessments of patients presenting to the ER.


Contact Project Heartbeat today to learn more about this course or to sign up for a course date in Sacramento or the Bay Area.