New triage system to improve emergency care at MHPH

The system will help identify patients with urgent healthcare needs, so that they can be prioritised for assessment and treatment.

Dr John McKup, Specialist Medical Officer in Emergency Medicine at MHPH, said the new system will help improve the quality of care provided to emergency patients.

“Triage will allow us to identify patients who need urgent treatment. The ED is now colour-coded, such that the patients requiring resuscitation are taken to the red area. Patients with other needs may be directed to yellow and green areas. This simple system will help ensure that we can provide the best possible care to the greatest number of patients,” said Dr McKup.

“All patients who attend MHPH ED will now be registered and triaged on arrival. Under the new system, emergency doctors will see patients in order of urgency, not time of arrival.”

The new system has been developed by the World Health Organization (WHO), Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) and the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), but has been adapted for Papua New Guinea by a team from the Australasian College for Emergency Medicine (ACEM).

Visiting from Townsville, Australia, Chair of the ACEM Global Emergency Care Committee (GECCo), Dr Colin Banks, said the system is an exciting development for MHPH.

“I’m delighted to be back at Mount Hagen Provincial Hospital to see first-hand how Dr McKup and his team are working to improve care for emergency patients in Western Highlands. Implementing the new system has been a collaborative project between emergency physicians and nurses from Australia and PNG, and it’s been a very positive experience for all involved,” said Dr Banks.

The implementation of the new system is part of an emergency care strengthening project supported by the Australian Government through through the Papua New Guinea-Australia Partnership. This triage system was piloted at Gerehu General Hospital (GGH) in Port Moresby in September this year, yielding immediate improvement to patient management and care and the same level of impact is anticipated at MHPH.


ACEM is the peak body for emergency medicine in Australia and New Zealand, responsible for training emergency physicians and advancement of professional standards.

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