LHSC develops triage system for expectant mothers
The London Health Sciences Centre has given birth to a Canadian first, becoming the first hospital to use a triage system unique to women arriving at the obstetrics unit.
The scale was developed by doctors and nurses at LHSC to help better assess and care for pregnant women.
Rosina Trovato is in early labour with her second child. While she has had a trouble-free pregnancy, she's glad there's an improved system for triaging expectant moms who come into the obstetrics unit with a range of medical concerns.
"It makes me feel reassured knowing that I’d come in and that I’d be seen when I should be seen."
It's called the Obstetrical Triage Acuity Scale or OTAS and replaces what had been basically a system of first-come, first-served.
Dr. Rob Gratton, chief of obstetrics at LHSC, says "We have a volume of patients that we can't see immediately each patient, so we've had to come up with a triaging process where we determine which ones we need to see quickly because they have significant problems and which ones can safely wait.”
When a patient arrives at the obstetrics unit nurses evaluate their symptoms and assign a number from one to five from a colour-coded chart.
That determines suggested options such how long before the patient should see a doctor.
Obstetrical nurse Robyn Love explains "Level one here shown in red is the most urgent. That might include someone who's imminently delivering or comes in with quite active bleeding. And it progresses from most urgent to less urgent."
Gratton adds "Someone at the other end of the scale may just be having some discomforts of pregnancy."
The scale is similar to a triage system in emergency departments with some features unique to obstetrics.
While patients aren't even aware of the scale in use during their hospital visit, Trovato is glad it's there.
"Having that scale it really does reassure me."
The triage scale is attracting international attention, and hospitals locally and in Toronto and British Columbia have expressed interest in putting it in place.