Introduction: The interaction between nurse and patient in Emergency Department triage is a pivotal point in emergency care. The goal in triage is to rapidly assess a patient’s status and urgency of need. Determining urgency of need is absolutely crucial. The purpose of this study was to elicit the perspective of the triage emergency nurse to uncover possible components necessary for successful triage.
Methods: Using an interpretive phenomenological method, the experience of triage was explored by conducting semi-structured interviews. Seven emergency nurses in the coastal Georgia area, with a mean age of 40, were interviewed after accepting an open invitation via Facebook to talk about their triage experiences. Experience in emergency nursing ranged from 2-15 years.
Results: An interest in patients as people fostered open communication between emergency nurse and patient, revealing important patient information for triage decisions. The process of how emergency nurses worked toward the best triage decision for individual patients was uncovered. Two themes were identified in these data: (a) connecting with the patient and (b) reading between the lines.
Discussion: Findings indicate that the triage encounter is multifaceted and requires more than didactic knowledge to arrive at a good decision. Connecting with the patient and reading between the lines to identify salient features from a patient’s history or subtle signs from the patient may improve triage decision-making in the more subtle presentations. This knowledge will help educators build on the identified themes in the creation of novel ways to teach emergency nurses how to triage.
Available at: http://works.bepress.com/susan_sammons/16/