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SAMJ: South African Medical Journal

On-line version ISSN 2078-5135
Print version ISSN 0256-9574


BUYS, H et al. An adapted triage tool (ETAT) at Red Cross War Memorial Children's Hospital Medical Emergency Unit, Cape Town: An evaluation. SAMJ, S. Afr. med. j. [online]. 2013, vol.103, n.3, pp.161-165. ISSN 2078-5135.

OBJECTIVE: To evaluate the efficacy of an adapted Emergency Triage Assessment and Treatment (ETAT) tool at a children's hospital. DESIGN: A two-armed descriptive study. SETTING: Red Cross War Memorial Children's Hospital, Cape Town, South Africa. METHODS: Triage data on 1 309 children from October 2007 and July 2009 were analysed. The number of children in each triage category red (emergency), orange (urgent or priority) and green (non-urgent)) and their disposal were evaluated. RESULTS: The October 2007 series: 902 children aged 5 days - 15 years were evaluated. Their median age was 20 (interquartile range (IQR) 7 -50) months, and 58.8% (n=530) were triaged green, 37.5% (n=338) orange and 3.8% (n=34) red. Over 90% of children in the green category were discharged (478/530), while 32.5% of children triaged orange (110/338) and 52.9% of children triaged red (18/34) were admitted. There was a significant increase in admission rate for each triage colour change from green through orange to red after adjustment for age category (risk ratio (RR) 2.6; 95% confidence interval (CI) 2.2 - 3.1). The July 2009 cohort: 407 children with a median age of 22 months (IQR 7 - 53 months) were enrolled. Twelve children (2.9%) were triaged red, 187 (45.9%) orange and 208 (51.1%) green. A quarter (101/407) of the children triaged were admitted: 91.7% (11/12) from the red category and 36.9% (69/187) from the orange category were admitted, while 89.9% of children in the green category (187/208) were discharged. After adjusting for age category, admissions increased by more than 300% for every change in triage acuity (RR 3.2; 95% CI 2.5 - 4.1). CONCLUSIONS: The adapted ETAT process may serve as a reliable triage tool for busy paediatric medical emergency units in resource-constrained countries and could be evaluated further in community emergency settings

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