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Triage; evolution or extinction
  1. Geoff Hughes
  1. Correspondence to:
 Geoff Hughes
 The Emergency Department, Royal Adelaide Hospital, Adelaide, Australia; cchdhb{at}

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It is generally accepted that the concept of triage began in the military context. It was used in the battlefield to focus limited medical resources on the injured soldiers who were most likely to benefit, ignoring those casualties close to death or with untreatable injuries. It was an early (and possibly the first) example of large scale clinical risk management.

From its military origins it evolved to become a key component of modern clinical practice in both the emergency department and the mass casualty setting. Patients are prioritised into different categories using simple criteria based on clinical presentation, symptoms and vital signs. As the processes became more …

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