Objectives: To determine the ED consumers' level of understanding, acceptance and desire for knowledge regarding the Australasian Triage Scale (ATS), and to determine the ED staff's attitudes towards open provision of ATS information.
Methods: Convenience sampling of 289 ED consumers and 56 staff was undertaken. Data were collected by self-administered questionnaires.
Results: In total, 289 consumers (100%) and 45 staff (80.3%) agreed to participate. One hundred and forty-seven (50.8%, 95% CI 45.0-56.6) consumers linked triage with determination of medical urgency. Two hundred and fourteen (74.0%, 95% CI 68.9-79.1) wanted to know their ATS category and 236 (81.7%, 95% CI 77.1-86.1) wanted ongoing waiting time information. Only 114 (39.4%, 95% CI 33.7-45.1) consumers wanted input into their triage rating. Staff felt the ATS was fair, but were uncertain about providing specific initial and ongoing ATS information. Staff were strongly against any consumer input into the triage process.
Conclusions: Patients do not understand the ATS well, and would like to be provided with more specific initial and ongoing information, but staff uncertainty needs to be overcome before consumers' wishes can be better addressed.