Posted by: Witch Doctor | March 26, 2009

Creeping Triage


You don’t speak French, My Black Cat?

Nether you do…

You want to know the origin of the word “triage.”

It comes from the french verb “trier” which means to sort.

The principle of triage was in use in the battlefield well over a century ago. It was used in the Napoleonic wars but the procedure was not given the name “triage” until WW1.

Now, My Black Cat, you must not allow yourself to be confused by a term that is not in your language.

Triage is really a form of rationing.

And you know what rationing means.

It was always intended to be used in wartime when there were not enough resources to treat the wounded. It could also be used in peacetime during a calamity such as an earthquake or an epidemic.


Old Napoleon would be turning in his grave if he thought it was being used during peacetime in civilized countries to ration everyday patient care.

Patients would not like it if they were wheeled into an A and E department and told they were going to see the “Rationing Receptionist.”

They might prefer to see a “Rationing Nurse.”

Or better still a “Rationing Doctor”

Most patients don’t like any of these terms, so The Humankind use the word “triage” instead of “rationing.”

So we have “Triage Nurses” and “Triage Doctors” and that keeps everyone happy.

If you really, really want to ration so that you can get some kind of superior status for your hospital by showing you are a Super-Saver of money, or if you are a Chief Executive who wants brownie points on his/her CV, then it seems to be good idea to have a “Triage Receptionist.”

“Triage Receptionists” are cheaper to employ.

You might say they are “Lean”

They are part of The Rationing Ethos, My Black Cat.

You could give them all white coats to wear and tell them to cut off the sleeves so they all look the same. And then no-one would have a clue who was rationing them.

You could even get rid of the word Doctor, Nurse or Receptionist.

You could be triaged by a Competent Clinical Decision-maker.

There, My Black Cat, how does that sound?

That is a term loved by The Royal College of Physicians in London.

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  1. […] “Triage” such as this is common practice nowadays and The Witch Doctor believes it is WRONG, WRONG, WRONG. Triage is being used in the wrong context within the NHS throughout the country. […]

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