The Emergency Department is a fast-paced, rapidly changing and unstructured environment. ED nurses need to be proficient in setting patient care priorities and making effective decisions to ensure that care is managed efficiently according to patient needs.

ED nurses will often have an increased patient load with high patient turnover, so it is important to develop the advanced nursing skill of prioritising care according to the patient’s needs.

The art of prioritisation is a concept based on sound critical thinking, clinical judgement, decision- making and time management skills. It is important for you to be aware of the big picture and to communicate effectively with the multidisciplinary health care team.

A clinical placement in the ED provides an ideal opportunity to learn and develop strategies to manage complex clinical situations.

Within this module there are resources to help you to learn the basic principles and concepts surrounding prioritisation of patient care.

Decision making and prioritisation of care
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How to Answer NCLEX® Priority Questions (it’s easier than you think)
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Gibbons, L. J., & Stoddart, K. (2018). ‘Fast and frugal heuristics’: Clinical decision making in the Emergency Department. International Emergency Nursing, 41, 7-12. doi:10.1016/j.ienj.2018.04.002

Fry, M., & MacGregor, C. (2014). Confidence and impact on clinical decision-making and behaviour in the Emergency Department. Australasian Emergency Nursing Journal, 17(3), 91-97. doi:10.1016/j.aenj.2014.03.003

Schumaker, R. H., & Bergeron, K. (2016). The clock model: A tool for clinical reasoning in the Emergency Department. The Journal for Nurse Practitioners, 12(7), 467-472. doi:10.1016/j.nurpra.2016.05.002