Time from triage to initial physician assessment: A 5-year retrospective analysis
The aim of the study is to examine whether physicians adhere to the urgency classification as determined by the Canadian Triage and Acuity Scale. A retrospective-archive study was conducted in a tertiary hospital from January 2011 to December 2015. For each patient, we examined the relation between the urgency rating set by the triage nurse and the waiting time for the physician. Additionally, we explored the relationships between waiting times for physicians and several subgroups: patient arrival time, season of the year, assigned care area, and first consultant to examine the patient, using Analysis of Variance (ANOVA) analysis. There were 392,687 unique visits during the study period. The distribution of the classification was heterogeneous: 7,133 (1.8%) patients were classified as Priority (P) P1; 17,318 as P2 (4.4%); 148,657 as P3 (37.8%); 113,502 as P4 (28.9%); and 106,077 as P5 (27%). Median and interquartile ranges for time from triage until physician assessment, by triage group, were: P1, 0.7 minutes (0.2-24); P2, 35 minutes (13-76); P3, 44 minutes (21-88); P4, 45 minutes (20-87); and P5, 46 minutes (22-88). Percentages of visits that met the evaluation time goals, by triage classification, were: P1, 61%; P2, 27%; P3, 37%; P4, 61%; and P5, 85%. ANOVA test for the four subgroups revealed statistically significant differences (P<.001). In conclusion, the standard goals for time to physician evaluation are not being met, and there is little difference in time to evaluation between the P3, P4, and P5 classifications. Initiation of system-wide changes in physician workflow and awareness may improve physician adherence to triage classification, shorten time lags, and improve patient evaluation. Further research may allow for better understanding of the factors influencing triage adherence and reinforce teamwork among Emergency Department triage nurses and physicians.
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