Evaluation of guidelines for emergency triage assessment and treatment in developing countries
- aUnit for Health Services Research and International Health and Department of Paediatrics, IRCCS Burlo Garofolo, via dell'Istria 65/1, 34137, Trieste, Italy, bInstituto Materno Infantil de Pernambuco, Recife, Brazil, cBerkeley School of Public Health, Division of Public Health Biology and Epidemiology, Berkeley, California, USA
- Dr Tamburlini email:
- Accepted 19 July 1999
AIM To evaluate performance of a simplified algorithm and treatment instructions for emergency triage assessment and treatment (ETAT) of children presenting to hospital in developing countries.
METHODS All infants aged 7 days to 5 years presenting to an accident and emergency department were simultaneously triaged and assessed by a nurse and a senior paediatrician. Nurse ETAT assessment was compared to standard emergency advanced paediatric life support (APLS) assessment by the paediatrician. Sensitivity, specificity, and predictive values were calculated and appropriateness of nurse treatments was evaluated.
RESULTS The ETAT algorithm as used by nurses identified 731/3837 patients (19.05%); 98 patients (2.6%) were classified as needing emergency treatment and 633 (16.5%) as needing priority assessment. Sensitivity was 96.7% with respect to APLS assessment, 91.7% with respect to all patients given priority by the paediatrician, and 85.7% with respect to patients ultimately admitted. Specificity was 90.6%, 91.0%, and 85.2%, respectively. Nurse administered treatment was appropriate in 94/102 (92.2%) emergency conditions.
CONCLUSIONS The ETAT algorithm and treatment instructions, when carried out by nurses after a short specific training period, performed well as a screening tool to identify priority cases and as a treatment guide for emergency conditions.