The Pediatric Assessment Triangle: Accuracy of Its Application by Nurses in the Triage of Children

Timothy Horeczko, Brianna Enriquez, Nancy E. McGrath, Marianne Gausche-Hill, Roger J. Lewis

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

30 Scopus citations


Introduction: The Pediatric Assessment Triangle (PAT) is a rapid evaluation tool that establishes a child's clinical status and his or her category of illness to direct initial management priorities. Recently the PAT has been incorporated widely into the pediatric resuscitation curriculum. Although intuitive, its performance characteristics have yet to be quantified. The purpose of this research is to determine quantitatively its accuracy, reliability, and validity as applied by nurses at triage. Methods: In this prospective observational study, triage nurses performed the PAT on all patients presenting to the pediatric emergency department of an urban teaching hospital. Researchers performed blinded chart review using the physician's initial assessment and final diagnosis as the criterion standard for comparison. Results: A total of 528 children were included in the analysis. Likelihood ratios (LRs) were found for instability and category of pathophysiology using the PAT. Children deemed stable by initial PAT were almost 10 times more likely to be stable on further assessment (LR 0.12, 95% confidence interval [CI] 0.06-0.25). The PAT further specified categories of pathophysiology: respiratory distress (LR+ 4, 95% CI 3.1-4.8), respiratory failure (LR+ 12, 95% CI 4.0-37), shock (LR+ 4.2, 95% CI 3.1-5.6), central nervous system/metabolic disorder (LR+ 7, 95% CI 4.3-11), and cardiopulmonary failure (LR+ 49, 95% CI 20-120). Discussion: The structured assessment of the initial PAT, as performed by nurses in triage, readily and reliably identifies high-acuity pediatric patients and their category of pathophysiology. The PAT is highly predictive of the child's clinical status on further evaluation.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)182-189
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Emergency Nursing
Issue number2
StatePublished - Mar 2013


  • Evaluation of children
  • PAT
  • Pediatric Assessment Triangle
  • Pediatric emergency medicine
  • Pediatric resuscitation
  • Triage

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Emergency


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