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Using the CEC paediatric calling criteria in emergency department triage

Charles H Pain, Clifford F Hughes, Marino Festa, Jodie Ekholm and Matthew O’Meara
Med J Aust 2011; 194 (4): 210-211.
Published online: 21 February 2011

To the Editor: O’Leary and Major1 have opened debate on the issues raised by the New South Wales-wide introduction of the Clinical Excellence Commission Between the Flags (BTF) observation charts, which incorporate escalation thresholds for vital signs and other criteria. In the BTF charts, “yellow” zone criteria trigger a clinical review and “red” zone criteria, a rapid response.2 Evidence shows that deterioration can be recognised early, reducing serious consequences.3,4 O’Leary and Major trialled a subset of the draft BTF paediatric calling criteria in the context of triage in an emergency department, applying them retrospectively and comparing the actual triage decision with the one that would have been made using the BTF criteria alone. They also examined patient disposition for patients falling within the yellow and red zones. They concluded that “the physiological parameters ... are not suitable as a triage tool in the paediatric emergency department, do not replace an experienced triage nurse, and are a poor predictor of disposition”.1

  • Charles H Pain1
  • Clifford F Hughes1
  • Marino Festa2
  • Jodie Ekholm3
  • Matthew O’Meara4

  • 1 Clinical Excellence Commission, Sydney, NSW.
  • 2 The Children’s Hospital at Westmead, Sydney, NSW.
  • 3 Sydney South West Area Health Service, Sydney, NSW.
  • 4 Sydney Children’s Hospital Randwick, Sydney, NSW.


Competing interests:

Charles Pain and Clifford Hughes hold executive positions at the Clinical Excellence Commission. Marino Festa is an unpaid member of the Clinical Excellence Commission BTF Expert Advisory Committee and co-editor of the DETECT Junior Manual that will accompany the BTF program.

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