TRIAGE : Management of the trauma patient
Abstract: Triage, derived from the French word for sorting, aims to assess and prioritize injured patients, regardless of whether the injuries are sustained from everyday road traffic accident with few injured or a mass casualty incident. Triage seeks to provide the greatest benefit to the largest number of casualties in order to minimize morbidity and mortality. Triage in a pre-hospital setting entails management and sorting of patients according to an assessment of medical need, prioritization, and evacuation. In-hospital triage aims to rapidly identify the most injured and ensure timely and appropriate treatment according to the patient’s clinical urgency. A number of different systems for performing triage have been established and implemented globally. The methodology is recognized and utilized but there is still a need for an evidence-based strategy to optimize training and the efficacy of the different systems.The main aim of this thesis was to determine triage performance among prehospital personnel and investigate the potential advantage of a triage system for trauma patients. The papers included in this thesis evaluated the triage skills of physicians, pre-hospital personnel, and rescue services personnel by testing their performance before and after an educational intervention. The last paper evaluated potential benefits of using a triage system for trauma patients admitted to the emergency department at MOI Teaching and Referral Hospital in Eldoret, Kenya.The results presented in this thesis illustrate that triage skills are lacking among physicians. Experienced pre-hospital personnel are more skilled in performing triage than physicians. The triage skills of the rescue services personnel improved significantly after the educational intervention. Moreover, the potential benefit to trauma patients of implementing an in-hospital triage system in a resource-poor environment was shown. In conclusion, health care personnel, especially physicians without experience but highly involved in trauma patient management, seem to be in need of triage training. How to train, how to implement, and how to evaluate triage skills must be considered in order to develop effective training.
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