During and beyond the triage encounter: chronically ill elderly patients' experiences throughout their emergency department attendances

Int Emerg Nurs. 2012 Oct;20(4):207-13. doi: 10.1016/j.ienj.2012.03.006. Epub 2012 Jul 20.


Background: Chronically ill elderly patients are frequent users of care in emergency departments (EDs). Due to their presenting symptoms, these patients are often assessed on a low urgency level of priority by the triage nurse.

Aim: The aim of the study was to explore and describe the experiences of a group of chronically ill elderly patients' during their triage encounter and subsequent ED stay.

Method: The data consisted of 14 open-ended interviews with chronically ill patients aged between 71 and 90years. A lifeworld approach was used in order to describe the essence of patient experiences. The study was carried out with a descriptive phenomenological research perspective.

Conclusion: The visit to the ED was experienced as contradictory. The triage encounter fostered confidence and set promising expectations, but during the rest of the visit, the patient felt abandoned and considered the staff to be uncommitted and reluctant. These ambiguous experiences of their ED visits indicate a need for exploring possible ways of improving the situation for the chronically ill older person in ED.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Attitude to Health*
  • Chronic Disease*
  • Emergencies
  • Emergency Service, Hospital / organization & administration*
  • Female
  • Health Services Needs and Demand
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Qualitative Research
  • Quality of Health Care*
  • Sweden
  • Triage / methods*
  • Waiting Lists