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The Process of Triage in Perinatal Settings: Clinical and Legal Issues

Mahlmeister, Laura PhD, RN; Van Mullem, Chris MS(c), RN

The Journal of Perinatal & Neonatal Nursing: March 2000 - Volume 13 - Issue 4 - p 13–30
Original Articles

The process of triage in perinatal settings often has been considered the sole function of the labor and delivery nurse. In fact, all nurses have a legal and professional duty to engage in the systematic identification of patient-client problems, prioritization of needs, and prompt deployment of personnel and equipment to meet those needs. In-person and telephone triage occur in all obstetric ambulatory and acute care settings. The organized steps in triage should be identical regardless of the location or size of the perinatal service. The redesign of women's and neonatal services, the reduction of professional nursing staff, and predictions of a growing nursing shortage require perinatal nurses to develop highly refined triage skills.

President, Mahlmeister and Associates, Staff Nurse, The Birth Center at San Francisco General Hospital, San Francisco, California (Mahlmeister)

Nurse Clinician, The Birth Center, Sinai Samaritan Medical Center, Milwaukee, Wisconsin (Van Mullem)

Submitted for publication: August 30, 1999

Accepted for publication: October 4, 1999

Copyright © 2000 by Aspen Publishers, Inc.