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Opinion: Hospitals’ new emergency department triage systems boost profits but compromise care

If you’ve needed emergency care in the last few years, you probably encountered this situation: Soon after entering the emergency department, you were asked to go to a triage area in the waiting room where a doctor, nurse practitioner, or physician assistant asked you a few questions and ordered some diagnostic tests while you waited.

That’s a departure from the traditional form of triage, in which a nurse assesses the level of acuity of a patient’s illness or injury. This basic and time-honored system ensures that someone with a gunshot wound gets seen before someone with a sprained ankle.

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