Nurses’ and doctors perceptions regarding the implementation of a triage system in an emergency unit in South Africa

  • JE Augustyn
  • VJ Ehlers
  • SP Hattingh
Keywords: Cape Triage Score, emergency unit, nurse triage, trauma nursing, triage system


Triage assessment of patients on arrival at an emergency unit is an essential function in quality emergency care provision, and is a cost-effective and time saving venture. This study investigated nurses’ and doctors’ perceptions about the implementation of the Cape Triage Score in one emergency unit. The challenges encountered prior to the implementation of the Cape Triage Score and the roles and core competencies of the triage nurse were addressed as well as the strengths
and weaknesses of the Cape Triage Score. In this descriptive, quantitative and exploratory study, 15 nurses and doctors completed questionnaires. The challenges decreased and the sorting of patients improved after the implementation of the Cape Triage Score. Other strengths of this
system included that the triage nurse prioritised patients, as opposed to the receptionist or the administrative staff; and nurses could undertake preliminary investigations without waiting for doctors’ orders to do so. The weaknesses of the implemented Cape Triage Score included that it was
not fully functional 100% of the time, and that it was diffi cult to maintain during peak admission periods due to a shortage of nurses. The recommendations included that management should be convinced of the system’s benefi ts; nurses should perform the triage function on a rotation basis; more nurses should be available during peak periods; and that the administrative and reception staff should also be orientated about the triage system.

Journal Identifiers

eISSN: 2071-9736
print ISSN: 1025-9848