Chapter 1. Triage and emergency conditions

Triage is the process of rapidly screening sick children soon after their arrival
in hospital in order to identify:

  • those with emergency signs, who require immediate emergency treatment
  • those with priority signs, who should be given priority while waiting in
  • the queue so that they can be assessed and treated without delay; non-urgent cases, who have neither emergency nor priority signs.

Emergency signs include:

  • obstructed breathing
  • severe respiratory distress
  • central cyanosis
  • signs of shock (cold hands; capillary refill longer than 3 seconds; weak, fast pulse)
  • coma
  • signs of severe dehydration in a child with diarrhoea(signs of severe dehydration in a child with diarrhoea (lethargy, sunken eyes,very slow return after pinching the skin—any two of these).

Children with emergency signs require immediate treatment to avert death.The priority signs identify children who are at higher risk of dying.  These children should be assessed without unnecessary delay.