Are improvements in store for the Emergency Severity Index (ESI) triage system? That may be the case, as the intellectual property behind the system has just been acquired by the Emergency Nurses Association (ENA).

“We have started to look at how best to enhance it,” explains Patricia Kunz Howard, PhD, RN, CPEN, TCRN, NE-BC, FAEN, FAAN, president of ENA. “We expect to explore all options, including technology and potential collaborations, to help ESI evolve and further improve the ability of emergency nurses to triage patients.”

First launched in 1998, ESI has since become the leading triage approach used in the United States. Generally, emergency nurses use the five-level scoring system, ranging from most urgent (1) to least urgent (5), to assess for patient acuity as well as the expected level of care that a patient will require upon presentation to the ED.

“ENA is best suited to take advantage of the opportunity to acquire this important tool that is used by 80% of emergency nurses,” Howard observes. “While no immediate changes are planned, ENA will certainly be looking to update ESI and further develop it as part of our collection of high-quality educational resources that involve the continuum of trauma care.”

Originally, two emergency physicians devised the ESI concept, the late Richard Wuerz, MD, and the late David Eitel, MD.

After pilot testing, the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ) funded the initial work on ESI. In recent years, AHRQ has maintained and supported the system.