Types of Triage Systems

Written by jenny e
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Types of Triage Systems
Triage system identifies the critically ill. (physician examination table image by palms from Fotolia.com)

Triage is a system employed by health personnel to sort incoming patients according to the level of severity of condition. The whole concept of triage is based on managing limited resources in health institutions, including space and manpower. Triage originated on the battlefield and was used primarily by physicians to sort wounded soldiers into manageable categories such as critical and beyond salvage. This allowed them to focus on those who needed immediate care.

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Simple Triage and Rapid Treatment

This is the most basic form of triage, which is used at the scene in cases involving mass casualties such as earthquakes, hurricanes and accidents. This system is used to sort patients into those who need urgent care, those who need care and those with less serious injuries. The purpose of this is to determine the casualties who will be transported to the hospitals first. After they have been sorted, they are separated into four groups: the deceased who have already passed away and are beyond help, the wounded who can be saved by immediate transportation and medical attention, the wounded who can survive a little wait and finally, those who have minor injuries. These groups are then affixed with printed triage tags for easy identification. This system was initially developed for use by firefighters and community emergency response teams (CERTs) after earthquakes.

Types of Triage Systems
In mass accidents, medical personnel transport the most injured first. (accident image by ann triling from Fotolia.com)

Advanced Triage

Advanced triage is a bit controversial from an ethical standpoint; this is because physicians decide to withhold treatment because a seriously wounded or ill patient is unlikely to survive. Instead of providing such patients with advanced care, they instead concentrate on those with less severe conditions who are more responsive to treatment. The reason for this approach is to preserve limited resources for those patients who have a much higher chance for survival. This system has been used in such cases as in volcanic eruptions where the severity of the injuries can be so devastating that the patients will die regardless of what the physicians do. The resources that the physicians are trying to preserve include drugs and medical care.

Types of Triage Systems
Triage is often used in earthquakes. (bussana vecchia image by diego cottino from Fotolia.com)

Reverse Triage

This is a system in which the less wounded are given preferential treatment over other more serious patients, even if the other patients are likely to survive. This type of system is common on the battlefields where the slightly wounded soldiers are quickly treated and sent back into the fray or in situations where physicians or other essential caregivers are among the wounded in which case, they are quickly treated so that they can recover quickly and assist the other caregivers.

Wounded phycisians recieve priority treatment in reverse triage systems.
Wounded phycisians recieve priority treatment in reverse triage systems. (apple a day image by Keith Frith from Fotolia.com)

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