Emergency Nursing in Australia can be described as one of the best and worst fields to enter in the world of Nursing.
It can be the best in terms of being ready for anything, expecting the unexpected, being challenged almost daily, testing your patience, tolerance and sanity, and facing really tough circumstances.
It can be the worst in terms of being ready for anything, expecting the unexpected, being challenged almost daily…. you get the picture!
How we Manage Patients: Australasian Triage Scale
Patient’s who present to emergency departments in Australia are treated in the order of their clinical urgency. The Australasian Triage Scale is a tool used in Australian and New Zealand emergency departments to measure the level of clinical urgency for each patient, ensuring that essentially the sickest patients, or those with life threatening conditions are seen first.
AUSTRALASIAN TRIAGE SCALE:
ATS CategoryTreatment AcuityPerformance Indicator
ATS 210 minutes80%
ATS 330 minutes75%
ATS 460 minutes70%
ATS 5120 minutes70%
Performance Indicator Thresholds
The “indicator threshold” is a representation of the percentage of patients who have their medical assessments and treatments commenced, within the suggested waiting time which is appropriate for their triage category. Staff and resources should be made available in order for these thresholds to be achieved progressively from cat 1 to 5. (source)
According to the Australasian College of Emergency Medicine (ACEM), the ATS category is assigned in response to the question: “This patient should wait for medical assessment and treatment no longer than….”
Anyone presenting to an emergency department in Australia is triaged on arrival by a trained, experienced Registered Nurse. As part of the assessment a triage score will be allocated to each patient. The triage process is a dynamic one, and scores can be altered according to any changes or deterioration in a patient’s condition.
The triage nurse can also begin investigations and treatment prior to assessment by medical officers. This may include initiating first aid procedures, the administration of medications such as analgesics and anti-emetics, referrals to radiology, and blood/pathology collection depending on each individual presentation. Initial management and treatment guidelines are specific to each organisation.