The purpose of this essay is to explore the role of the triage nurse in a hospital setting.


The purpose of this essay is to explore the role of the triage nurse in a hospital setting. Identifying the qualifications and skills required to work within this selected field. Also looking at the duties which the triage nurse undertakes on a daily basis.

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According to the oxford mindictionary for nurses it states, triage is “a system whereby a group of causalities or other patients is sorted according to the seriousness of their injuries or illnesses so that treatment priorities can be allocated between them. In emergency situations it is designed to maximize the number of survivors.” (Oxford minidictionary for nurses, 2008)

A triage nurse is a fully licenced registered nurse within their country of work and has completed the recommended qualification’s to register either at a degree or diploma level.

Triage nurses are multi skilled health care professionals. They require the ability to make strong evaluations, decisive judgements and remain calm under pressure. Above all remaining compassionate and respecting patient confidentiality through the use of excellent interpersonal and communication skills. All these skills are necessary to become a successful triage nurse. (Discover Nursing 2009)

The triage nurse is the first line of assessment on entry to any accident and emergency department. They quickly and accurately assess patient’s conditions, take medical history and the reason why they have presented at the department. He/she also obtains vital signs such as blood pressure, pulse and temperature. Ehow(2011)

A triage nurse is skilled in cardiac care and can offer immediate ECGs to reduce the need to refer to the patient to the next department for further assessment. (Ehow 2011)

The accident and emergency department does not see patients on a “first come, first serve” basis. Therefore the triage nurse determines whether the individual needs immediate medical treatment or is in the position to wait while more severe cases are evaluated.

The triage nurse will determine the more critical patients and if their injuries or illnesses lie within the vital triangles of the body. The first vital triangle of the body is the cranial cavity. Second includes the spinal cavity, thorax, diaphragm, abdominal pelvic cavity, lungs and heart. Some examples of these include chest pain, acute breathlessness, haemorrhage, burns and multiple injuries. (Ehow 2011)

In many cases the triage nurse deals with individuals who arrive at the accident and emergency department with health problems that could have been dealt by their local general practice. In these cases the triage nurse provides advice and information on how to obtain the care they require. (Ehow 2011)

The role of the triage nurse is highly specialised. They can be seen as one of the most important members of the accident and emergency team. Triage nurses follow certain guidelines which they must maintain. They update documents and important papers. They communicate with providers, pharmacists, nurses, certified nursing assistants and certified medical assistants all while putting the patient first. (Discover Nursing 2009)

Discover Nursing (2009) Triage Nursing Available at: Accessed
Ehow(2011) Triage Nurse Duties & Responsibilities. Available at: Accessed
Ehow(2011) The Definition of a Triage Nurse. Available at: Accessed
Ehow(2011) The Responsibilities of a Triage Nurse. Available at: Accessed
Ehow(2011) What Training Is Required for a Triage Nurse. Available at: Accessed
NHS(2011) Emergency Department. Available at: Accessed
Oxford minidictionary for nurses(2008) Sixth edition, Oxford university press

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