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Comparing the Accuracy of Mass Casualty Triage Systems When Used in an Adult Population. Prehosp Emerg Care 2020;24(4):515-524



Pubmed ID




Scopus ID

2-s2.0-85087433455 (requires institutional sign-in at Scopus site)   16 Citations


Objective: To use a previously published criterion standard to compare the accuracy of 4 different mass casualty triage systems (Sort, Assess, Lifesaving Interventions, Treatment/Transport [SALT], Simple Triage and Rapid Treatment [START], Triage Sieve, and CareFlight) when used in an emergency department-based adult population. Methods: We performed a prospective, observational study of a convenience sample of adults aged 18‚ÄČyears or older presenting to a single tertiary care hospital emergency department. A co-investigator with prior emergency medical services (EMS) experience observed each subject's initial triage in the emergency department and recorded all data points necessary to assign a triage category using each of the 4 mass casualty triage systems being studied. Subjects' medical records were reviewed after their discharge from the hospital to assign the "correct" triage category using the criterion standard. The 4 mass casualty triage system assignments were then compared to the "correct" assignment. Descriptive statistics were used to compare accuracy and over- and under-triage rates for each triage system. Results: A total of 125 subjects were included in the study. Of those, 53% were male and 59% were transported by private vehicle. When compared to the criterion standard definitions, SALT was found to have the highest accuracy rate (52%; 95% CI 43-60) compared to START (36%; 95% CI 28-44), CareFlight (36%; 95% CI 28-44), and TriageSieve (37%; 95% CI 28-45). SALT also had the lowest under-triage rate (26%; 95% CI 19-34) compared to START (57%; 95% CI 48-66), CareFlight (58%; 95% CI 49-66), and TriageSieve (58%; 95% CI 49-66). SALT had the highest over-triage rate (22%; 95% CI 14-29) compared to START (7%; 95% CI 3-12), CareFlight (6%; 95% CI 2-11) and TriageSieve (6%; 95% CI 2-11). Conclusion: We found that SALT triage most often correctly triaged adult emergency department patients when compared to a previously published criterion standard. While there are no target under- and over-triage rates that have been published for mass casualty triage, all 4 systems had relatively high rates of under-triage.

Author List

McKee CH, Heffernan RW, Willenbring BD, Schwartz RB, Liu JM, Colella MR, Lerner EB


Mario R. Colella DO, MPH Professor in the Emergency Medicine department at Medical College of Wisconsin
Jason M. Liu MD Professor in the Emergency Medicine department at Medical College of Wisconsin

MESH terms used to index this publication - Major topics in bold

Disaster Planning
Emergency Medical Services
Emergency Service, Hospital
Mass Casualty Incidents
Prospective Studies
Tertiary Healthcare