More than 6 million people present to emergency departments across the United States annually with symptoms of acute myocardial infarction (AMI). Of the 1 million patients with AMI, 350,000 die during the acute phase. Accurate ED triage can reduce mortality and morbidity, yet accuracy rates are low. In this study we explored the relationship between patient and nurse characteristics and accuracy of triage in patients with symptoms of AMI.Methods
This retrospective, descriptive study used patient data from electronic medical records. The sample of 286 patients was primarily white, with a mean age of 61.44 years (standard deviation [SD], ± 13.02), and no history of heart disease. The sample of triage nurses was primarily white and female, with a mean age of 45.46 years (SD, ± 11.72) and 18 years of nursing experience. Nineteen percent of the nurses reported having earned a bachelor’s degree.Results
Emergency nurse triage accuracy was 54%. Patient race and presence of chest pain were significant predictors of accuracy. Emergency nurse age was a significant predictor of accuracy in triage, but years of experience in nursing was not a significant predictor.Discussion
Of the 9 variables investigated, only patient race, symptom presentation, and emergency nurse age were significant predictors of triage accuracy. Inconsistency in triage decisions may be due to other conditions not yet explored, such as critical thinking skills and executive functions. This study adds to the body of evidence regarding ED triage of patients with symptoms of AMI. However, further exploration into decisions at triage is warranted to improve accuracy, expedite care, and improve outcomes.