The use of a triage system in the emergency department allows for the ability to reliably assign patients for treatment within a short amount of time in order to prioritize and treat on the basis of patients injury and illness. A 5 point triage system has been shown to have the highest correlation with effective resource utilizations, lower time to be seen and treatment times, and admission or release outcomes for patients. The problem is, however, that these triage scales were developed on the basis of physical illness and not on the ever-increasing number of patients who present with mental illness. This article compares one physical and one specific mental illness–based triage system to measure the differences in times to be seen by a physician. It found that the specialized psychiatric triage system decreased wait times and allowed symptoms to be addressed sooner for patients presenting with psychiatric complaints.
Roosevelt University, Health Services/Public Administration, Chicago, Illinois (Dr Downey); Department of Emergency Medicine, Finch University/Chicago Medical School, Chicago, Illinois (Dr Zun); and Department of Emergency Medicine, Mount Sinai Hospital, Chicago, Illinois (Dr Zun and Ms Burke).
Correspondence: La Vonne A. Downey, PhD, Roosevelt University, Health Services/Public Administration, 430 Michigan Ave, Chicago, IL 60605 (Ldowney@roosevelt.edu).
La Vonne A. Downey contributed to study concept and design, acquisition of the data, analysis of data, drafting of manuscript, revisions of manuscript, statistical expertise, and study supervision. Leslie S. Zun contributed to study concept and design, acquisition of data, drafting and revision of manuscript, administrative and technical support, and study supervision. Trena Burke contributed to acquisition of data, administrative and material support, and study supervision.
The authors have disclosed that they have no significant relationships with, or financial interest in, any commercial companies pertaining to this article.