Hospital and Telephone Triage

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ABCDE and triage

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2 min 36 sec
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Now we will look at a brief explanation of the A-E system as far as the triage is concerned?

A stands for Airway, so has the patient got a patent airway. So patients can come in with a sore throat, you look in their throat, and they have quite a severely swollen throat. If their tissue swells any more, they will have an occluded airway. So that is known as an occluded airway when it occludes, also people can be choking, coughing, that is an occluded airway. Generally speaking, if somebody is talking to you in complete sentences, then their airway is good.

B, Breathing. Are they speaking in full sentences, they have got capacity in their lungs and you can see if their lungs are expanding symmetrically and they are not breathing too fast.

C Circulation, check their pulse. They are nice, they are pink, they are well perfused, they are thinking okay and they can communicate.

D is Disability. It is about neurological disability, so it is whether you understand your surroundings, whether you can answer a question. Sometimes people use an AVPU scale alert, responding to voice, responding to pain or unresponsive, so it is their level of response, really, the disability, the D.

E is Exposure - These come from triage mnemonics and exposure is about exposing the patient so you have a good look at them, you do not do that in triage, you expose the bits that are causing the problem, but it is generally how does the patient look. Are they warm? Are they perfused? No deformities anywhere. They are not bleeding. So that is exposure.

And so how important is the ABCDE in the triage process itself?

Okay, so really, it is not something that is, that you are asking yourself and ticking off the boxes, it is something that you have in the back of your head all the time, you are always assessing airway, breathing, circulation, disability and exposure. It is on your mind all the time, that is how we assess patients, it is a quick and simple method and it is effective.

And those findings form part of your assessment and your final decisions and your final pathway?