Valenzuela Law Firm, PA | Trial Attorney
Attorney Henry E. Valenzuela

Triage and medical malpractice: How are they connected?

On Behalf of | Dec 14, 2023 | Medical Malpractice

Emergency care patients are typically directed to the triage department before seeing a doctor. Vital signs (heart rate, respiratory rate, blood pressure and so on) are checked in this department to determine their urgency to receive emergency care.

This step is particularly critical in overcrowded emergency rooms and hospitals with understaffed health care providers. 

If your condition deserved immediate attention but didn’t receive it due to a triage mistake, you may have experienced medical malpractice.

Here is how this can happen:

Inadequate training

Triage nurses should be highly trained in handling emergency issues. A nurse should quickly tell when a patient’s signs require urgent care. Hospitals that hire nurses inadequately trained on triage or fail to offer training frequently are likely to encounter medical malpractice cases.

Strictly making decisions based on triage results

Decision making is a crucial quality of a triage nurse. Even though triage analysis results are imperative, a nurse should observe a patient and make necessary changes on time. For example, a patient’s vitals may be stable, but they may have alarming symptoms in the waiting room – sweating, difficulty breathing and so on. Regardless of initial evaluation’s results, such a patient needs emergency care immediately.

Cases of families informing a nurse that their loved one’s condition is worsening in the waiting room and the nurse asking them to wait for their turn are not uncommon.


Some hospitals understaff the triage department to save money. But this usually leads to more issues. Having one nurse triaging patients, sending information to doctors and handling patients and their families can be overwhelming, increasing the chances of an error happening.

If you or your loved one experienced substandard care in the triage department, seek legal help to protect your rights. 


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