The objective of this review was to synthesize the best available evidence on the effectiveness of the Manchester Triage System (MTS) on time to treatment (TtT) for patients who visit the emergency department (ED).
The objectives of the MTS are to define a safe wait time for medical attention. Triage systems, such as the MTS, use criteria to ensure patient safety by determining appropriate wait times for each individual who visits the ED. The TtT is the time interval between arrival at the ED to initiation of therapeutic interventions. A short TtT is important in different clinical situations and may reduce infections and mortality. The MTS may have an impact on the TtT.
This review considered studies that included any patients visiting the ED with any complaints or medical diagnoses who were triaged using the MTS by nurses or doctors, and the TtT was measured. This review considered randomized controlled trials, as well as quasi-experimental, before-and-after, case-control and analytical cross-sectional studies. Studies published after 1994 in English, Spanish, Portuguese, French and German were considered for inclusion.
This systematic review was conducted in accordance with JBI methodology. The search strategy aimed to find both published and unpublished studies in MEDLINE, CINAHL, Lilacs, Web of Science, Embase, Scopus, Cochrane Central Register of Controlled Trials, Google Scholar, Banco de Teses - CAPES, and Digital Dissertations. The results of this search were assessed by one reviewer who excluded duplicate results. Titles and abstracts were screened by two independent reviewers for assessment against the inclusion criteria. The full texts of potentially eligible papers were retrieved and independently assessed by two reviewers using a standardized critical appraisal instrument from JBI. Data were extracted from studies included in the review and were presented using a narrative form. Tables were used to summarize the characteristics and findings of the studies.
The review included two before-and-after studies, with a total of 2265 participants. One study was of moderate quality, and the other was of high quality. One study included only patients with acute ischemic stroke, while the other included patients with any complaint. Both studies were performed with consecutive samples. The median TtT was 10 minutes before implementing the MTS and 12 minutes after implementing the MTS in the study that included patients with any complaints. In the study including patients with acute ischemic stroke, the median TtT decreased by 15 minutes after implementing the MTS (from 75 to 60 minutes). Because of the heterogeneity in the characteristics of the populations of the two studies, the results could not be pooled.
The MTS reduced the median TtT for patients triaged at the highest priority levels (orange and yellow), but it did not decrease the median TtT in all patients. The existing evidence base regarding the effectiveness of the MTS comes from two studies with methodological limitations that could not be pooled. The evidence indicates the MTS may confer benefit to some patients who visit the ED by reducing TtT, but not for all patients. Further research is needed before firm conclusions can be made.