The experiences of the emergency triage nurse: A phenomenological study
Dello Stritto, Rita A.
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The purpose of this phenomenological study was to describe the experiences of emergency triage nurses and the mechanisms triage nurses use to make triage decisions. The sample consisted of 1 o triage nurses, three men and seven women. Two participants worked in a rural setting, two in an urgent care/minor emergency department, two in suburban settings, and four in urban emergency departments, all located within the southeast Texas region. Semistructured audio-taped interviews were used to obtain data. Transcripts of the interviews were read and reread numerous times to gain an understanding of the essence of emergency triage nursing. Two major facets of triage nursing emerged: Roles of the Triage Nurse and Stressors of Decision Making. Roles of triage nursing encompassed rituals used to start the triage shift, the process of triaging, control aspects of gatekeeping for the emergency department, and serving as the complaint department for all who are unhappy about the perceived obstacles to receiving prompt care. Stressors of triage decision making was directly influenced by the volume of patients needing to be seen, the fear of a decision making error, and the role that intuition played in the ways in which nurses responded to their gut feelings for emergent situations.