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ED 5 Level Triage Color Coded Chart

January 5, 2015

Medical Carts have several different applications in hospital and healthcare settings. At a recent hospital in Arizona we saw this in the Emergency Department. This color coded poster acts as a “Control System” for ED staff when assessing an incoming patient’s needs.

Five Level Triage

Five Level Triage

If the patient falls into “Level 1” – a Code Blue Crash Cart would immediately be accessed. The first question is, “Is the patient Dying?” Staff can readily see in the Red level one, they are looking for respiratory arrest, cardiac arrest, hypoglycemia, Unresponsiveness, etc. The Code Blue Crash Cart has the necessary medications, equipment, and supplies on the cart for the healthcare professional to help save the patient’s life.

If the patient falls into “Level 2” – the patient will also receive immediate attention. A patient showing confusion, active chest pain, disorientation and other symptoms shown will require immediate assistance. Depending on which direction the patient goes – a medical cart with appropriate medications, equipment, and supplies would be utilized. If their condition goes toward “Level 1” – then again, the code blue crash cart would be accessed. If ED staff are able to stabilize – they may utilize an IV Cart, or Line Cart. The IV Cart would have all the necessary IV needles, lines, and solutions to begin the IV with appropriate medication solution(s).

“Level 3” I found interesting. It has a chart to determine if their “Vital Signs” are in the “Danger Zone”. After taking patient’s vital signs, they utilize the chart which factors in age – and the question is asked whether they need to be moved to “Level 2”. Typically a workstation on wheels, or mobile computing cart will have vital sign equipment on it and be rolled to the patient.

A patient coming into the emergency department with simple lacerations, headache, ankle sprain or similar falls into “Level 4” of the triage process. They are stable – and can wait to be seen accordingly. The Laceration Cart would be utilized for patients with lacerations. The Cast Cart or Ortho Cart has all necessary splints, and casting material for a patient requiring such care.

A low-level priority patient arriving in the ED would fall into “Level 5”. This may be a patient looking to have a medication refill, or an illness requiring a prescription.

Specific medical cart applications allow staff in all the departments of the hospital to apply care – at the point of care – the patient. Once the patient is admitted and seen by an emergency department healthcare professional, carts continue to be used. A laptop cart, workstation on wheels, or mobile computing cart will be used by the physician to log into the electronic healthcare record (EHR) and look up patient’s history. A bedside supply cart, or nurse server cart is stocked in the patient’s room with all basic necessary equipment, supplies, and medications. As for this color coded triage stage chart – medical carts are used from beginning to end.

Medical Cart – noun, /med-i-kul – ‘kart/; “Mobile systems, solutions, or workstations that optimize the storage, mobilization, and access of healthcare equipment, supplies, medication, and electronic data.” -American River Medical, LLC

Healthcare in general – especially emergency healthcare requires acute decision-making within processes designed for precision. For the same reason this simple yet effective control system of a color coded triage chart exists, medical carts exist and are a paramount true solution in healthcare.

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