Triage: Prioritizing Patients

triageTriage is a word we hear but do non-medical people really understand the meaning? Triage is the practice of determining the priority of patients’ treatments based on the severity of their conditions. The value of this process is evidenced when resources are insufficient to treat each person immediately.

It is utilized to decide the priority and sequence of emergency treatment, emergency transport and or the transport destination for patients. The process of triage may also be used for multiple patients arriving at an emergency room.

Approaches to triage have advanced as medical technology has improved. Scientific models are becoming the basis for modern approaches to triage. Victims are categorized by their triage scores, which are delineated by specific physiological assessments made by the healthcare professionals.

START is one of the models currently used that is based on an algorithm. As triage theories become more sophisticated, the direction of triage evolves also. Increasingly software and hardware support products are being utilized in hospitals in the field.

Most of us think about potential emergencies in terms of personal and individual events. Medical professionals cannot afford to think that way. Nor can they prepare for emergencies under the assumption that they will always have the time or means by which they can focus on one patient.

Triage: Prioritizing Patients

When mass casualties or illnesses come into play, medical professionals must make quick decisions. Those decisions must be second nature to them because they have the expertise to evaluate patients swiftly.

The media is filled with stories about natural disaster, trauma, crime, illness, casualty, war and death. While the negative is not something that we should dwell on, it is something for which we should be prepared.


Pediatric HAL® S3005 ~ Simulation offers the opportunity for healthcare professionals to gain more experience and become better prepared in dealing with triage.

What would you do if there were an event that created a great number of injured and dying people while you were on duty as a medical professional? How would you prioritize patients to whom you would give care and how would you prioritize the patients you would transport?

Most likely, you would use the SMART Tag Triage System.

To be continued.

“Plans are nothing; planning is everything.”  ~  Dwight D. Eisenhower

First Photo: United States Navy with the ID 091110-N- 7032B-06

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