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Understanding the ED triage process

When you present to an emergency department in Providence County, you may feel, like everyone else, that you require immediate treatment. Yet we at DeLuca and Weizenbaum can attest to the fact that ED practitioners may error in determining which patients need to be seen first. However, there are recommended standards that, if followed properly, should discern whether your condition needs to be treated immediately.

Upon arriving at the ED (other than by ambulance), you will typically be seen by a triage nurse. His or her job is to determine your level of acuity (intensity of care required). To do this, it is recommended that he or she follow the algorithm established by the Emergency Severity Index. As described by the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, the five levels of this algorithm are as follows:

  •          Do you need immediate intervention in order to save your life? If yes, then you are assigned an ESI level of 1 and should be seen immediately.
  •          If not an immediate life-threatening condition, should you be made to wait? If no, you may be assigned a level 2 and taken back promptly.
  •          If you can wait, how many resources (i.e., lab work, imaging scans) will your treatment require? If the answer is more than one, then your vital signs should be considered. If they are abnormal, you should be upgraded to a level 2. If not, then you may be assigned a level 3. If your treatment requires one or no resources, you may be assigned a level 4 or 5, respectively.

This process may only take a few minutes, and offers no guarantees that a potentially life-threatening problem will not be missed. You can learn more about this and other scenarios where failures to correctly diagnose you may occur here on our site. 

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Providence Personal Injury Office

199 North Main Street
Providence, RI 02903

Toll Free: 888-876-9415
Phone: 401-354-7233
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