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Interviewer: Professor Taylor, thank you for taking the time to do this interview
today on triage in the COVID-19 pandemic.
Can we start with an overview of what the overall meaning is of
triage in medical settings, and why and when it is important?
Prof. Taylor: Thank you. Triage has been around for quite a considerable time,
it's probably most frequently applied in the context of the emergency department.
We all know that emergency departments can be quiet or they can be exceedingly
busy, and often there'll be a waiting time.
Who should wait? That's the issue of triage.
The issue in that busy setting is an issue of priorities,
of urgency, and of resources.
The priority that's given to patients as they come in through the front door has
to be evaluated, and often there's a triage nurse who does that sort of thing.
For example, if somebody comes in with a broken leg
that can be of medium priority and urgency,
whereas if somebody comes in with a heart attack and unstable cardiac rhythm
that's an immediate emergency, and needs urgent attention.
To summarise what triage is about:
it's about assessing priorities;
it's about assessing urgency;
it may also be in some settings
(not commonly in the NHS,
but in some settings) about how you allocate resources,
whether it's manpower resources or physical resources.
The concept is to try to maximise the efficiency of the system, and maximise