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BACKGROUND: Improving screening and triage practices is essential for early severity assessments at the first point of contact and ensuring timely attention by healthcare workers (HCWs). The main objective of this study was to explore the triage process among febrile patients and HCWs in the emergency department (ED) of a tertiary care hospital in a resource-constrained setting. METHODS: This qualitative study was conducted from March to May 2023 at the ED of Tribhuvan University Teaching Hospital (TUTH), Nepal. The study included in-depth interviews with febrile patients (n = 15) and HCWs (n = 15). Additionally, direct observation notes (n = 20) were collected to document the triage process and patients' experiences in the ED. Data underwent thematic analysis using the Interpretative Phenomenological Analysis (IPA) approach. RESULTS: The ED of TUTH offered comprehensive triage services with clear delineation for the severity of febrile patients in line with the World Health Organization (WHO) guidelines. Nonetheless, challenges and constraints were identified. In the ED, evenings were generally the busiest period, and the triage process was not thorough during night shifts. Perception of triage was limited among patients and variable among HCWs. Digitalizing recordings of patient information including payment was deemed necessary for effective management of patients' waiting times at the triage station. High patient throughput added pressure on HCWs and had a potential influence on the delivery of services. Availability of medical equipment and space were also identified as challenges, with patients sometimes compelled to share beds. There were constraints related to waste disposal, hygiene, cleanliness, and the availability and maintenance of washrooms. Febrile patients experienced delays in receiving timely consultations and laboratory investigation reports, which affected their rapid diagnosis and discharge; nonetheless, patients were satisfied with the overall healthcare services received in the ED. CONCLUSIONS: Improving current triage management requires resource organization, including optimizing the waiting time of patients through a digitalized system. Urgent priorities involve upgrading visitor facilities, patient consultations, laboratory investigations, hygiene, and sanitation. HCWs' recommendations to resource the ED with more equipment, space, and beds and a dedicated triage officer to ensure 24-hour service, together with training and incentives, warrant further attention.

Original publication




Journal article


BMC Health Serv Res

Publication Date





Emergency department, In-depth interview, Patient journey, Triage, Humans, Triage, Tertiary Care Centers, Nepal, Emergency Medical Services, Delivery of Health Care, Emergency Service, Hospital, Health Personnel, Hospitals, University