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Performance of a three-level triage scale in live triage encounters in an emergency department in Hong Kong

journal contribution
posted on 2023-07-17, 23:30 authored by RPK Lam, SL Kwok, VK Chaang, L Chen, EHY Lau, KL Chan
Background: Despite its continued use in many low-volume emergency departments (EDs), 3-level triage systems have not been extensively studied, especially on live triage cases. We have modified from the Australasian Triage Scale and developed a 3-level triage scale, and sought to evaluate its validity, reliability, and over- and under-triage rates in real patient encounters in our setting. Method: This was a cross-sectional study in a single ED with 24,000 attendances per year. At triage, each patient was simultaneously assessed by a triage nurse, an adjudicator (the "criterion standard"), and a study nurse independently. Predictive validity was determined by comparing clinical outcomes, such as hospitalization, across triage levels. The discriminating performance of the triage tool in identifying patients requiring earlier medical attention was determined. Inter-observer reliability between the triage nurse and criterion standard, and across providers were determined using kappa statistics. Results: In total, 453 triage ratings of 151 triage cases, involving 17 ED triage nurses and 57 nurse pairs, were analysed. The proportion of hospital admission significantly increased with a higher triage rating. The performance of the scale in identifying patients requiring earlier medical attention was as follows: sensitivity, 68.2% (95% CI 45.1-86.1%); specificity, 99.2% (95% CI 95.8-100%); positive predictive value, 93.8% (95% CI 67.6-99.1%); and negative predictive value, 94.8% (95% CI 90.8-97.1%). The over-triage and under-triage rates were 0.7% and 4.6%, respectively. Agreement between the triage nurse and criterion standard was substantial (quadratic-weighted kappa = 0.76, 95% CI, 0.60-0.92, p < 0.001), so was the agreement across nurses (quadratic-weighted kappa = 0.81, 95% CI 0.65-0.97, p < 0.001). Conclusions: The 3-level triage system appears to have good validity and reasonable reliability in a low-volume ED setting. Further studies comparing 3-level and prevailing 5-level triage scales in live triage encounters and different ED settings are warranted.

History

Journal

International Journal of Emergency Medicine

Volume

13

Article number

28

Pagination

28-

Location

England

ISSN

1865-1372

eISSN

1865-1380

Language

en

Issue

1

Publisher

Springer Science and Business Media LLC