Last updated: October 30, 2017

What Does Triage Mean?

Triage is the sorting and prioritization of patients based on the severity of their condition, as well as taking into account their probability of benefiting from the medical treatment provided.

This process is utilized for the treatment of patients particularly when resources are limited to treat all patients on an immediate basis.

Safeopedia Explains Triage

Triage is typically implemented in emergency rooms, disasters, and wars. These are all situations in which the allocation of limited medical resources is required to maximize the number of survivors.

Triage comes from the French verb “trier,” which means “to sort.” Historical records show that triage was most likely first used during World War I when wounded soldiers were sorted into one of the following three groups:

  • Those who could be expected to live even without receiving medical care
  • Those who were unlikely to live, even when medical care was provided
  • Those who could survive if they received care

One of the current approaches to triage in the U.S. consists of five levels:

  1. Resuscitation
  2. Emergent
  3. Urgent
  4. Less urgent
  5. Non-urgent

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