Emergency room triage is the process of determining which patients require help immediately and which are stable enough to wait. In recent years, changes to this process have been called into question, with some positing that the new triage process that many hospitals employ actually diminishes patient care and adds to their already exorbitant hospital bill.
In the past, patients would be examined by a nurse to determine the severity of their injuries or illness upon entering an emergency room. Urgent and life-threatening issues would be focused on first, while less urgent matters would be seen as doctors became available. The new type of triage entails meeting with a doctor or nurse to answer some questions about your condition. Tests will also be ordered during triage to gain a greater understanding of your illness or injury.
Despite claims that this new process expedites the patient experience, others point out troubling flaws in the system. For instance, the new triage does not really provide the patient time to relay important information about his or her health. Patient input is key in making the right diagnosis, while also ensuring the person receives the right type of medical care for an ailment.
There is also the risk of relying too heavily on diagnostic testing without getting the full picture. Medical tests are most beneficial when combined with other types of information, such as symptoms or medication being currently taken. A missing piece to the puzzle may result in an incorrect or delayed diagnosis, which could be deadly for some patients. While the new triage is touted as more efficient, many wonder whether it is not giving up quality of care in the process.