The system for determining who gets seen and in what order is called the Emergency Severity Index (ESI) and it was designed for use in ER triage by the US Department of Health & Human Services. The ESI is a five-level algorithm that prioritizes patients into five groups (levels) from 1 (most urgent or most acute) to 5 (least urgent or least acute) on the basis of seriousness and the resources that person may need. Triage staff use specific criteria to determine each patient’s acuity. They interview you (just a short talk), take your vital signs (blood pressure, pulse, measure your oxygen saturation and respiratory rate--the number of times a minute you take a breath). If you have pain you will be asked on a scale of 1-10 your pain level. This all helps to determine your ESI level.
- Resuscitation (trauma, cardiac arrest, heart has stopped)
- Emergent (life or limb threatening, chest pain, stroke)
- Urgent (abdominal pain)
- Non-urgent (vaccinated child pulling at ear, cold)
- Referred (medication refill)