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doi: https://doi.org/10.15441/ceem.23.107    [Accepted]
Predictability of the emergency department triage system during the COVID-19 pandemic
Se Young Oh, Ji Hwan Lee, Min Joung Kim, Dong Ryul Ko, Hyun Soo Chung, Incheol Park, Jinwoo Myung
Department of Emergency Medicine, Yonsei University College of Medicine, Seoul, Korea
Correspondence  Jinwoo Myung Tel: +82-2228-2679, Fax: +82-2-2227-7908, Email: JWM1125@yuhs.ac
Received: August 7, 2023. Revised: October 6, 2023.  Accepted: October 6, 2023. Published online: January 29, 2024.
Emergency department (ED) triage systems are used to classify the severity and urgency of emergency patients, and Korean medical institutions use the Korean Triage and Acuity Scale (KTAS). During the COVID-19 pandemic, appropriate treatment for emergency patients was delayed due to various circumstances, such as overcrowding of EDs, lack of medical workforce resources, and increased workload on medical staff. The purpose of this study was to evaluate the accuracy of the KTAS in predicting the urgency of emergency patients during the COVID-19 pandemic.
This study retrospectively reviewed patients who were treated in the ED during the pandemic period from January 2020 to June 2021. Patients were divided into COVID-19–screening negative (SN) and COVID-19–screening positive (SP) groups. We compared the predictability of the KTAS for urgent patients between the two groups.
From a total of 107,480 patients, 62,776 patients (58.4%) were included in the SN group and 44,704 (41.6%) were included in the SP group. The odds ratios for severity variables at each KTAS level revealed a more evident discriminatory power of the KTAS for severity variables in the SN group (P<0.001). The predictability of the KTAS for severity variables was higher in the SN group than in the SP group (area under the curve, P<0.001).
During the pandemic, the KTAS had low accuracy in predicting patients in critical condition in the ED. Therefore, in future pandemic periods, supplementation of the current ED triage system should be considered in order to accurately classify the severity of patients.
Keywords: Emergency departments; Triage; COVID-19
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