Hong Kong Emergency Nurses Association 香港急症科護士學會


Is mental health triage guideline necessary in our emergency department?

List of interesting journals reviewed

  • Broadbent, M., Jarman, H. & Berk, M. (2002). Improving competence in emergency mental health triage. Accident and Emergency Nursing. 10, 155-162.
  • Clerke, Diana, E., Brown, Anne-Marie, Hughes, L. & Motluk, L. (2006). Education to improve the triage of mental health patients in general hospital emergency departments. Accident and Emergency Nursing. 14, 210-218.
  • Happell, B., Summers, M. & Pinikahana, J. (2002). The triage of psychiatric patients in the hospital emergency department: a comparison between emergency department nurses and psychiatric nurse consultants. Accident and Emergency Nursing. 10, 65-71.
  • Smart, D., Polland, C. & Walpole, B. (1999). Mental health triage in emergency medicine. Australian and New Zealand Journal of Psychiatry. 33, 57-66.


These journals have highlighted the development, implementation of the Mental Health Triage Scale (MHTS) as well as the importance of improving nurses’ education and competency in mental health triage in emergency department. Apart from the triage guideline by the Hospital Authority, a specific mental health triage guideline is necessary to cope with the increasing demand of psychiatric attendance. Triage nurse’s competence in assessing mental health problem is a concern, when compared with psychiatric nurse. There are rooms for improvement not only on triage accuracy but also on triage documentation and immediate nursing interventions to psychiatric patients.

The Mental Health Triage Scale (MHTS) in Austria can be a reference to the development of a specifically tailored psychiatric triage guideline in Hong Kong. In order to ensure the effectiveness, mental health education for emergency nurse is important. We hope that these examples will set as a cornerstone to the development of psychiatric triage guideline in Hong Kong.

After reviewing the above journals, members are free to give suggestion