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We sought to assess the applicability of the Canadian Emergency Department Triage and Acuity Scale (CTAS) in the prehospital setting by comparing CTAS scores assigned during ambulance transportation by base hospital (BH) nurses with CTAS scores given by emergency department (ED) nurses on patients' arrival.
We recruited a prospective sample of consecutive patients who were transported to the ED by ambulance between December 2006 and March 2007 for whom a contact was made with the BH. Patients were triaged by the BH nurse with online communication and vital signs transmission. On arrival, patients were blindly triaged again by the ED nurse. We used the quadratic weighted κ statistic to measure the agreement between the 2 CTAS scores.
Ninety-four patients were triaged twice by 2 nursing teams (9 nurses at the BH and 39 nurses in the ED). The agreement obtained on prehospital and ED CTAS scores was moderate (κ = 0.50; 95% confidence interval 0.37–0.63).
The moderate interrater agreement we obtained may be a result of the changing conditions of patients during transport or may indicate that CTAS scoring requires direct contact to produce reliable triage scores. Our study casts a serious doubt on the appropriateness of BH nurses performing triage with CTAS in the prehospital setting.
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