Triage during the week of the Sichuan earthquake: A review of utilized patient triage, care, and disposition procedures

  • Nie H
  • Tang S
  • Lau W
 et al. 
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Objectives: There exists no standard hospital emergency department (ED) triage procedure model for earthquake victims. This study provides an overview of the hospital triage procedure used for patients evaluated and treated at the West China Hospital of Sichuan University, Chengdu in the Sichuan province of China, following the May 12, 2008 Wenchuan earthquake. Methods: Emergency triage and treatment teams were comprised of senior emergency medicine (EM) attending physician, junior EM attending physician, EM residents, and specialty surgeons. Retrospective analysis of the hospital medical records of 2283 earthquake victims was performed. Victims' demographic data, triage process and group assignments, diagnoses and dispositions were reviewed. Results: In the 2 weeks following the Wenchuan earthquake, 2283 total patients with earthquake-related injuries were admitted to our hospital. 54 victims (2.4%) were lost to follow up. Patients were triaged into four main groups: resuscitation (n = 6), urgent treatment (n = 369), delayed treatment (n = 1502), and minor injuries (n = 406). 68.9% (1572/2283) of the patients were admitted to the hospital during the 15 days after the earthquake. The overall hospital mortality rate was 1.0% (15/1572). 1304 victims were transferred to nearby hospitals after initial treatment, stabilization, or surgery. Conclusions: Proper triage strategy should be established prior to the onset of a mass casualty event and should be appropriate to both the severity of the disaster and the accepting facility resource availability. Triage methods utilizing multi-specialty treatment teams and dynamic hospital-wide coordination are critical for efficient, efficacious patient management. Hopefully, sharing with the emergency medicine community the arduous challenges we faced in the wake of the Wenchuan earthquake will be useful for planning the response to future disasters. © 2010 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.

Author-supplied keywords

  • China
  • Earthquake
  • Triage

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  • Shi Yuan Tang

  • Wayne Bond Lau

  • Jian Cheng Zhang

  • Yao Wen Jiang

  • Bernard L. Lopez

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