Triage Must Comply with Emergency Treatment Act

Compliance should be continuously reviewed

TUESDAY, June 24 (HealthDay News) -- In an emergency department setting, how triage is conducted and who is qualified to conduct triage are two aspects that must comply with the Emergency Treatment and Active Labor Act (EMTALA), and compliance is an on-going process, according to an article published in the June issue of the Journal of Emergency Nursing.

Paul G. Bond, R.N., of Paul Bond and Associates Consulting in Palm Coast, Fla., writes that triage alone does not encompass all aspects of an adequate medical screening examination, which also includes ancillary tests. However, the information gathered in the course of triage can be used in conjunction with the medical examination to determine whether or not a patient is presenting with an emergency condition.

Triage nurses need to be trained in the triage system used by their institution and this training should ensure they do not violate the requirements of EMTALA. Constant re-education on triage and EMTALA compliance are inextricably linked, the author writes.

"EMTALA has become one of the more important concerns of the emergency medical community. Since being enacted in 1986, it has been expanded by both case law and interpretations by the government," the author writes. "Efforts to remain in compliance must be ongoing and proactive in nature, and include constant re-evaluation of policies and emergency department processes, and re-education of staff."

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