To compare emergency department triage nurses’ time to triage and accuracy of a simulated mass casualty incident (MCI) population using a computerized version of CTAS or START systems.
This pilot study was a prospective trial using a convenience sample. A total of 20 ED triage nurses, 10 in each arm of the study, were recruited. The paper-based questionnaire contained nine simulated MCI vignettes. An expert panel arrived at consensuses on the wording of the vignettes and created a standard triage score from which to compare the study participants. Linear regression and chi-squared test were used to examine the time to triage and accuracy of triage, respectively.
The mean triage time for computerized CTAS (cCTAS) and START were 138 seconds/patient and 33 seconds/patient, respectively. The effect size due to triage method was 108 seconds/patient (95% CI 83-134 seconds/patient). The cumulative triage accuracy for the cCTAS and START tools were 70/90 (77.8%) and 65/90 (72.2%), respectively. The percent difference between cumulative triage was 6% (95% CI −19-8%).
Triage nurses completed START triage 105 seconds/patient faster when compared to cCTAS triage and a similar level of accuracy between the two methods was achieved. However, when the typing time is taken into consideration cCTAS took 45 seconds/patient longer. The use of either CTAS or START in the ED during a MCI may be reasonable but choosing one method over another is not justified from this investigation.