Original Research

A descriptive study of demographics, triage allocations and patient outcomes at a private emergency centre in Pretoria

Kirsty Hedding, Enrico Dippenaar, Lee Wallis
South African Family Practice | Vol 63, No 1 : Part 4| a5308 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/safp.v63i1.5308 | © 2021 Kirsty Hedding, Enrico Dippenaar, Lee Wallis | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 23 April 2021 | Published: 09 November 2021

About the author(s)

Kirsty Hedding, Division of Emergency Medicine, Faculty of Health Sciences, University of Cape Town, Cape Town, South Africa
Enrico Dippenaar, Division of Emergency Medicine, Faculty of Health Sciences, University of Cape Town, Cape Town, South Africa
Lee Wallis, Division of Emergency Medicine, Faculty of Health Sciences, University of Cape Town, Cape Town, South Africa

Abstract

Background: Triage aims to detect critically ill patients and to prioritise those with time-sensitive needs, whilst contributing to the efficiency of an emergency centre (EC). International systems have been relatively well researched; however, little data exists on the use of the South African Triage Scale (SATS) in private healthcare settings in South Africa (SA).

Methods: A retrospective descriptive study was undertaken. Data relating to demographics, application of triage, time in EC and disposition were collected on all patients presenting to the EC from 1st January to 31st December 2018.

Results: A total of 29 055 patients’ data were included. The mean age was 41 years. Most patients were triaged yellow (73.5%); 17.4% were triaged as red and orange. Patients were seen by a doctor in a mean time of 28 min. Delays to be seen exceeded standards for red and orange patients at 8 min and 18 min, respectively. Most patients (76.1%) were discharged; 5.6% were admitted to intensive care unit (ICU)/high care, and 14.4% to general wards. Of patients triaged red and orange, 11.1% and 49.3% were discharged, respectively, whereas 81.7% of yellow patients were discharged home.

Conclusion: This study found that most patients were triaged into low acuity categories and were discharged home. High acuity patients were usually admitted to ICU/high care; however, these patients experienced delays in receiving treatment. The causes of these issues, and the implications, remain unknown. Large numbers of high acuity patients were discharged home. Further studies are needed to understand the influence of triage accuracy on these patients’ outcomes.


Keywords

emergency medicine; triage; ICU; critically ill patients; private healthcare

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