Health Break | Published January 28, 2008 | Written by Theo Waksmunski, RN

Triage: Care Provided First

Triage: care provided first

The emergency department at Mount Nittany Medical Center is open 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Patients seek care for a variety of ailments, conditions and injuries, and the caregivers of the emergency department are equipped and ready to provide care to all patients in emergent situations. Maintaining an open admissions policy, the Medical Center ensures no patient will be refused evaluation and service based upon gender, age, race, creed, national origin, infection status, or the ability to pay. This means the door is always open and no appointment is necessary.

To best care for patients, like most hospital emergency departments, the Medical Center emergency department uses a system called triage. Some patients lives are in jeopardy, other patients may be experiencing pain or severe fever, while others may have a broken bone or need psychiatric evaluation.

Triage nurses at the Medical Center are experienced emergency department professionals skilled in determining the severity of a patients condition. Patient conditions may be life threatening, urgent or non-urgent. Life threatening issues involving the patients airway, breathing or circulation, such as cardiac arrest or uncontrolled bleeding, are seen and treated immediately in the areas of the emergency department appropriate prepared for this type of care. Patients with urgent problems are usually treated in the main care areas of the emergency department. Patients with non-acute illnesses or injuries, such as sore throats or ankle injuries are often seen in the Basic Care area of the emergency department.

The Medical Center has also recently implemented a greeter system. The greeter at the Front Desk in the waiting area may ask the patients name and a brief complaint. This allows for better flow through Triage during peak hours.

The triage nurse will then obtain a brief history and assess blood pressure, pulse, respirations and temperature of the patient before directing the patient to the appropriate care area. If possible, patients are advised to bring a current list of medications and allergies, and try to avoid eating or drinking prior to coming to the emergency department.

The emergency department strives to provide the finest care to every patient, every day and uses systems, such as triage, to effectively administer that care.

Theo Waksmunski is a registered nurse in the emergency department at Mount Nittany Medical Center and a paramedic for the Moshannon Valley Emergency Medical Services.