The Effect of Point-of-Care Testing at Triage: An Observational Study in a Teaching Hospital in Saudi Arabia
Published Web Locationhttps://doi.org/10.5811/westjem.2018.6.38217
Introduction: Prolonged waiting times during episodes of emergency department (ED) crowding are associated with poor outcomes. Point-of-care testing (POCT) at ED triage prior to physician evaluation may help identify critically ill patients. We studied the impact of ED POCT in a single ED with a high degree of crowding for patients with high-risk complaints who were triaged as non-critically ill.
Methods: We conducted the study from April–July 2017 at King Abdulaziz University (KAU) Hospital in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia. Patients with one of seven complaints received triage POCT. The primary outcome was whether POCT results at triage resulted in immediate transfer of the patient from the waiting room into the ED. Secondary outcomes were whether the triage nurse felt that the POCT results were useful, and whether triage POCT changed triage acuity. We used simple descriptive statistics to summarize the data.
Results: A total of 94 patients were enrolled and received i-STAT® POCT. The most common symptoms and triage protocols were for chest pain (42%), abdominal pain (31%), and shortness of breath (22%). In 11 cases (12%), care was changed as a result of triage POCT. In 12 cases (13%), triage level was changed. The triage nurse found POCT helpful in 93% of cases.
Conclusion: In this ED, triage POCT was a helpful adjunct at ED triage and resulted in immediate care (transfer to an ED room) in one in eight cases. Therefore, POCT at triage may be a useful adjunct to improve patient safety, particularly in crowded EDs.