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Objective: The study purpose was to obtain an understanding of both the types of questions mandated for the triage encounter in emergency departments across the US, and how emergency nurses (EN) perceive the relevance of these questions to the triage process. Methods: a qualitative descriptive exploratory study using focus group data was used. Data were collected at an in-person emergency nursing conference held in September 2022. Data were analyzed using Mayring’s 8-step process. Results: Participants (n=35) voiced concerns about a lack of expertise at all points in the triage process. The overarching problem is reported as data required by regulatory agencies are conflated with triage assessment information. Participants in this study reported that the conflation of the triage assessment with regulatory compliance is causing significant issues in the ability of ENs to appropriately evaluate patient presentations. Main thematic categories were identified as Assessment or Compliance, Who’s Assessing the Patients, and Establishing Safety(subthemes: Important Questions, Situationally Important Questions, Important Questions Prior to Discharge), and The Lack of EN Input. Conclusions: The conflation of regulatory data collection with patient assessment at the initial triage encounter challenges the ability of the EN to rapidly and accurately identify patients at risk for deterioration. We recommend that initial triage processes encompass questions that focus on establishing the stability of the patient, the safety of the waiting room, and include inquiry relevant to the patient presentation.


This is the accepted manuscript version of the article that was published online in the Journal of Emergency Nursing in July 2023.

Original Publication Information

Lisa Wolf, Altair Delao, Paul Clark, Elizabeth Mizerek, Michael D. Moon, The Effect of Mandatory Triage Questions on Triage Processes: A Qualitative Exploratory Study, Journal of Emergency Nursing, 2023,





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