Triage is the process of sorting patients by levels of acuteness of illness or injury. Patients are usually classified by this process as emergent, acute or non-acute. Emergent patients are those with life-threatening conditions. Acute conditions include those problems that must be treated within a few hours. Non-acute conditions are those that can be treated in an outpatient facility or for which delay in treatment will not cause an adverse effect on the patient.

The triage service should be limited to some, or all, of the following components: obtain chief complaint, brief problem focused history, vital signs (B/P, HR, RR & Temp.), visualization of an affected site, decide if condition presented is an emergency medical condition (emergent or acute), contact patient's primary care physician, establish priority of patient's care, assign patient to the appropriate treatment setting (e.g., ER treatment room, outpatient facility), provide information on referrals. This service should be performed by a physician, or other qualified clinician (e.g., RN, NP, PA).


  1. Physician's Current Procedural Terminology: CPT 98. (Chicago: American Medical Association, 1997), p. 11.

  2. Rosen,Peter, et al. Emergency Medicine: Concepts and Clinical Practice; 3rd. ed., p. 62.

  3. Williams, Robert M. "Triage and Emergency Department Service." Annals of Emergency Medicine. April 1996; 27: 506-508.

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