Forcing medics to use a “tick box” formula in A&E to decide how ill people are could raise patients’ risk of death, a study suggests.
Simply looking patients up and down in an “eyeball triage” was found to be a more efficient way of spotting the most serious cases.
Since the 1970s, doctors have had to ask patients a number of set questions and then use a formula to decide how seriously ill they are.
Critics argue it creates a “tick box culture” where NHS staff are not trusted to use their expertise.
A study, published in Emergency Medical Journal, looked at 6,300 Danish patients who were assessed using both methods.
They were classed from green for not urgent, to yellow, orange or red for most urgent.
Patients were more likely to die when categorised as red by the “eyeball triage” than they were using the traditional, formal structured method.
Even junior medics and students made better decisions by simply looking at the patient.
Dr Ellen Weber, of University of California, said: “We’ve adopted complex systems that take up the time of highly qualified nurses, potentially delay care, to create what is probably, at best a ‘meh’ result.”
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