Getting to Know Your ER: What Is Triage?

Your hospital’s emergency department exists to provide immediate treatment for serious injuries and illnesses that cannot wait for care. However, because there is a range of conditions that prompt patients to visit the ER, emergency room physicians use a triage system to quickly differentiate between severe conditions that can wait for care and life-threatening situations that must be treated immediately to prevent loss of limb or life. Triage is designed to not only identify patients that require immediate lifesaving care, but also to improve the care process for all patients, regardless of their needs, for faster service and well-matched healthcare in an emergency setting.

The Triage Process

The triage process begins as soon as you walk into your hospital’s emergency department. Arriving patients are evaluated based on their symptoms; patients that arrive by ambulance are evaluated by emergency care personnel during transport and this information is transmitted prior to arrival. These symptoms are used to rank patients in terms of their immediacy so that patients with the most urgent symptoms are addressed first. Once a patient has been stabilized, emergency room staff will move on to the next patient in need, assigning a more targeted healthcare team to follow up on patient needs if necessary.

The Benefits of Triage

Triage offers many benefits, the most significant of which is improved speed and quality of patient care for all individuals who visit the emergency room, regardless of the immediacy of their needs. This system has been shown to offer benefits particularly in busy emergency centers, allowing all patients to be matched with the care they need quickly, even when lower-risk patients must wait slightly longer to receive care.

At Riverside Community Hospital, our goal is to provide prompt and complete emergency care to each patient that enters our hospital ER. In addition to our emergency services, we also offer heart care, robotic surgery, and organ transplant in Riverside; you can find out more about our hospital’s services or what to expect when you visit the ER on our website or by calling (951) 788-3463.

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