Assessment of ED triage of anaphylaxis patients based on the Emergency Severity Index

Daniel Chiang, Justine M. Ade, Xiao wei Liu, Fernanda Bellolio, Christine M. Lohse, Benjamin J. Sandefur, Ronna L. Campbell

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Objectives: To describe the emergency department (ED) triage of anaphylaxis patients based on the Emergency Severity Index (ESI), assess the association between ESI triage level and ED epinephrine administration, and determine characteristics associated with lower acuity triage ESI assignment (levels 3 and 4). Methods: We conducted a cohort study of adult and pediatric anaphylaxis patients between September 2010 and September 2018 at an academic ED. Patient characteristics and management were compared between Emergency Severity Index (ESI) triage level 1 or 2 versus levels 3 or 4 using logistic regression analysis. We adhered to STROBE reporting guidelines. Results: A total of 1090 patient visits were included. There were 26 (2%), 515 (47%), 489 (45%), and 60 (6%) visits that were assigned an ESI triage level of 1, 2, 3, and 4, respectively. Epinephrine was administered in the ED to 53% of patients triaged ESI level 1 or 2 and to 40% of patients triaged ESI level 3 or 4. Patients who were assigned a lower acuity ESI level of 3 or 4 had a longer median time from ED arrival to epinephrine administration compared to those with a higher acuity ESI level of 1 or 2 (28 min compared to 13 min, p < .001). A lower acuity ESI level was more likely to be assigned to visits with a chief concern of hives, rash, or pruritus (OR 2.33 [95% CI, 1.20–4.53]) and less likely to be assigned to visits among adults (OR, 0.43 [0.31–0.60]), patients who received epinephrine from emergency medical services (OR 0.56 [0.38–0.82]), presented with posterior pharyngeal or uvular angioedema (OR, 0.56 [0.38–0.82]), hypoxemia (OR, 0.34 [0.18–0.64]), or increased heart (OR 0.83 [0.73–0.95]) or respiratory (OR 0.70 [0.60–0.82]) rates. Conclusion: Patients triaged to lower acuity ESI levels experienced delays in ED epinephrine administration. Adult and pediatric patients with skin-related chief concerns were more likely to be to be assigned lower acuity ESI levels. Further studies are needed to identify interventions that will improve ED anaphylaxis triage.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)449-455
Number of pages7
JournalAmerican Journal of Emergency Medicine
StatePublished - Aug 2021


  • Anaphylaxis
  • Emergency department
  • Epinephrine
  • Triage

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Emergency Medicine


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