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Interprofessional education, Obstetric emergency services, Obstetrics, Triage.



  1. Angelini, Diane EdD, CNM, NEA-BC, FACNM, FAAN
  2. Howard, Elisabeth PhD, CNM, FACNM


Background: Triage concepts have shifted the focus of obstetric care to include obstetric triage units. The purpose of this systematic review is to examine the literature on use of triage concepts in obstetrics during a 15-year time frame.


Methods: A systematic review was completed of the obstetric triage literature from 1998 to 2013 using the electronic online databases from PubMed, CINHAL, Ovid, and Cochrane Library Reviews within the English language. Reference lists of articles were reviewed to identify other pertinent publications. Both peer-reviewed and non-peer-reviewed documents were used. Inclusion criteria: articles specifically related to obstetric triage or obstetric emergency practices in the hospital setting. Exclusion criteria included: manuscripts that focused on general, nonobstetric emergency and triage units, telephone triage, out-of-hospital practices, other clinical conditions, and references outside the time frame of 1998-2013.


Results: Key categories were identified: legal issues and impact of Emergency Medical Treatment and Active Labor Act (EMTALA); liability pitfalls; risk stratification (acuity tools); clinical decision aids; utilization, patient flow, and patient satisfaction; impact on interprofessional education and advanced nursing practice; and management of selected clinical conditions. Components of a best practice model for obstetric triage are introduced.


Conclusion: Seven key triage categories from the literature were identified and best practices were developed for obstetric triage units from this systematic review. Both can be used to guide future practice and research within obstetric triage.