Reliability of vital signs measured at triage
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OBJECTIVE: To determine the reliability of vital signs measured at triage in the emergency department. METHODS: The vital signs of all consenting ambulatory patients 16 years old and above presenting at triage were measured by the duty triage nurse as standard practice and then repeated by a single, blinded, trained observer within 2 min of the initial assessment using the same (manual or electronic) methods. The results were analysed using paired sample t-tests. RESULTS: No significant difference was found in the repeated electronic measurement of oxygen saturation [95% confidence interval (CI) -0.30-0.46, P=0.687] or repeated manual measurement of respiratory rate (95% CI -1.04-1.76, P=0.613). A statistically but not clinically significant difference of 2.43 bpm was found in the repeated electronic measurement of heart rate (95% CI 0.52-4.33, P=0.013). CONCLUSIONS: The manual and electronic measurements of vital signs at triage appear to be reliable.
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