The Emergency Departments at Muskoka Algonquin Healthcare (MAHC) have joined other Ontario hospitals in adopting the new provincial electronic Canadian Triage & Acuity Scale (CTAS) system, commonly known as eCTAS.
The acuity scale is a system used across the country to prioritize patient care by severity of illness or injury, so when patients arrive at triage, a Registered Nurse begins an assessment by taking their vital signs, listening to their care episode story and then applying a CTAS level. The CTAS score is used throughout all hospitals to help determine how quickly a patient should be seen by the nursing staff and the Emergency Department physician. With MAHC’s adoption of eCTAS, the Emergency Department triage nurses’ knowledge, skills and clinical experience are further supported and standardized by a provincial CTAS scale based on objective data points gathered during the triage process, according to MAHC.
“Nothing changes for the patient except confidence in knowing that the triage score is standardized and therefore would be the same if the patient presented at an Emergency Department somewhere else in Ontario,” said Esther Millar, chief nursing executive and clinical services. “Triage nurses will maintain their level of critical thinking and decision-making ability, but will have consistent reassurance through this provincial and confidential interface with our electronic health record that the correct decision on a CTAS level is made.”
Millar congratulates the Emergency Department teams for working through the process of adopting the standard and creating the interface and said that thanks to “robust training,” staff do not expect any delays for patients due to the new system. MAHC’s eCTAS adoption aligns with both local and provincial standards to improve patient safety and quality of care, according to the MAHC, and eCTAS will result in enhanced accountability through timely collection and analysis of triage data from all Ontario hospitals.
“Your emergency visit is always important to us and our staff will always make an effort to keep your wait time to a minimum,” said Dr. John Simpson, Emergency Department medical director. “As we get ready for summer population influx, it’s important to remember that some patients will be seen by the doctor sooner depending on the urgency of their illness or injury. If you can see your care provider in the community for something that is not urgent, it helps to reduce the wait in the Emergency Department.”