An external weather disaster has flooded the emergency department with several new clients. Which client should the nurse see first ?

  • the client complaining of chest pain and nausea who is diaphoretic
  • the client with a simple fracture of the radius from a fall on a staircase
  • the client complaining of slight redness and itching at the IV site in his hand
  • the client presenting with a sprained ankle from a tree branch falling on him
Number 1 is correct.
Triage works on the principle that clients with the highest acuity have priority over clients with injuries or conditions that are not considered life-threatening. Chest pain, nausea, and diaphoresis indicate a possible myocardial infarction, which can be life-threatening and requires immediate intervention. Fractures and sprains are nonurgent and can wait for treatment. Redness and itching at an IV site indicates a need to assess the site and remove and replace the IV, but is not immediately life-threatening.